U.S. holds slim advantage at PGA Cup

SAN MARTIN, Calif. — Rob McClellan, the head professional at Butler (Pa.) Country Club, birdied the last hole to give his team the lead for the only time in the match and help the U.S. to a 2.5-1.5 lead after the first session at the 25th PGA Cup at CordeValle.

McClellan and partner Marty Jertson of Phoenix, Ariz., were 1 down after 15 holes, then squared the four-ball match with a par at the par-3 16th. McClellan drove his tee shot into the right rough at the par-5 18th, then hit a hybrid onto the green from 254 yards. He missed his 20-foot eagle putt but was conceded his birdie.

“We hung in there and battled,” said McClellan.

The U.S., which holds a lopsided 16-5-3 edge in the overall series and is 10-0-2 on U.S. soil, gained a key half-point in the second match with a birdie by Mike Small, the head coach of the men’s golf team at the University of Illinois, at 18. Small and Faber Jamerson of Appomattox, Va., never led. They squared the match with a birdie by Small at the 16th, then lost the 17th on a birdie by England’s Stuart Little.

At the 18th, Small hit a 19-degree hybrid onto the right fringe of the green from 236 yards, then two-putted for birdie.

The other point for the U.S. was earned by Maryland’s David Hustell, the reigning PGA Professional National champion, and Merion Golf Club teaching professional Mark Sheftic. They were a combined 9 under par in a 3-and-2 win in the opening match.

“We got off to a good, solid start,” said Hutsell, “and more importantly, I think we both rolled the ball very nicely. We gave ourselves a lot of good opportunities and a few long putts went in, but it was just good, solid play. If one of us was struggling, it seemed like the other one came through and made a birdie or par to keep the momentum going.”

There are four four-ball and four foursomes matches on each of the first two days and 10 singles matches on Sunday.

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