Skinner gives U.S. 3-point lead at PGA Cup

SAN MARTIN, Calif. — Sonny Skinner was conceded a birdie putt at the last hole to gain a half-point for the U.S. in the morning session of Day 2 at the 25th PGA Cup at CordeValle.

Skinner, the head professional at River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga., and partner Brad Lardon of College Station, Texas, allowed the U.S. to score 1.5 points in the four four-ball matches and lead by three points, 7.5-4.5, heading into Saturday afternoon foursomes in the biennial matches featuring club and teaching professionals in the Ryder Cup-style competition.

“We hung in there until the very end,” said Skinner, who hit a 60-degree wedge from 87 yards to 4 feet, then watched as David Mortimer and Craig Goodfellow of GB&I both made bogeys. “We figured we were due for something good to happen.”

The morning’s best shots came in the 5-and-4 win by Robert Giles and Stuart Little over Americans Danny Balin, an assistant professional at Burning Tree Country Club in Greenwich, Conn., and Scott Erdmann of Tigard, Ore., in which consecutive holes were won with eagles.

With GB&I leading after six holes, 3 up, Balin hit a 7-iron into the cup at the 183-yard seventh for his second career hole-in-one and the first in the PGA Cup since Russell Weir, this year’s GB&I captain, in 1986 at the Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Ill.

At the next hole, a drivable par 4 playing 268 yards on Saturday, Giles drove the green and made his 30-foot eagle putt.

The U.S. received a 3-and-2 win from the pairing of Mike Small, the head coach of the men’s golf team at the University of Illinois, and Faber Jamerson, the general manager at Falling River Country Club in Appomattox, Va. They did not lose a hole and rode winning birdies by Jamerson at the fourth, 10th and 15th holes.

In the opening four-ball match, the U.S. team of David Hutsell and Mark Sheftic lost, 2 and 1. On the front nine, Hustell and Sheftic birdied four holes, the third, fourth, sixth and seventh, but failed to win any of them as GB&I responded with matching birdies.

Following four foursomes matches on Saturday afternoon, the match will conclude Sunday with 10 singles matches. The U.S. has never lost (10-0-2) on U.S. soil and leads in the series, 16-5-3.

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