Rookie GB&I team hopes to reverse PGA Cup trend

Benn Barham (file photo)

Benn Barham (file photo)

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11:01:15 AM ET. 04/24/2014




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Great Britain & Ireland fields 10 rookies in this weekend’s PGA Cup as it tries to win the club professionals’ version of the Ryder Cup after three straight defeats.

GB&I is trying to win the Llandudno Trophy for the first time since 2005. Captain Russell Weir says his 10-man team is motivated to beat the United States.

“The guys are very pumped up and ready to go,” Weir said.

“We have 10 rookies on the team this year, but I don’t think the fellas realized how big the event was until they got here. They are getting a real feel for it, and I am sure that while it is their first time, they won’t want it to be their last.

“When you hear the national anthems, that’s when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and that’s when you really feel the emotions. When you see the flags going up, it really brings it home.”

Weir might have 10 newcomers, but he fields a high-caliber team that includes players with European Tour experience. Scotland’s Greig Hutcheon appears in the match with three European Challenge Tour victories under his belt. He also made nearly 100 starts on the main European Tour.

Scott Henderson also makes his PGA Cup debut. The 44-year-old Scottish professional won the 1997 Sir Henry Cotton European Tour Rookie of the Year award.

Benn Barham, Graham Fox and Gareth Wright also had stints on the European Tour.

“This is our Ryder Cup, and you can’t give it any other definition,” Wright said.

“It’s the pinnacle of our playing career for us guys. It’s an honor to represent your country at any time, but in this format, it’s as high an accolade as we’re going to get.”

U.S. captain Allen Wronowski fields six rookies as the United States tries to win the cup for the 18th time since the inaugural match in 1973. Wronowski has never played in the biennial match; Weir made eight appearances for GB&I.

Mike Small, golf coach at the University of Illinois, is Wronowski’s most experienced player. Small is making his fifth consecutive appearance for the Americans.

The match takes place Sept. 20-22 at Slaley Hall in Northumberland, England. It follows a Ryder Cup format, with a session of foursomes followed by four-balls for two days and then closes with 10 singles matches. The U.S. leads the series, 17-5-3.

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