U.S. retains PGA Cup despite dramatic GB&I rally
HEXHAM, England -- There was no repeat of the Miracle of Medinah, but it was close.
Great Britain & Ireland came close to pulling off the mother of all comebacks in the PGA Cup at Slaley Hall. Trailing 10.5-5.5 heading into Sunday's action, and needing to win eight points out of 10 in the closing singles, the home side came close to pulling off the impossible dream.
GB&I won the singles 7 ½ - 2 ½ to earn a 13-13 tie. The United States retains the trophy after winning the cup two years ago, but for GB&I it was a significant moral victory.
“To win the singles 7 ½ - 2 ½ was an exceptional effort,” GB&I captain Russell Weir said. “It was tremendous. I just can’t describe how I feel about the boys. They were unreal. At one stage there was no red on the board. Someone had a T-shirt with the 'Miracle of Medinah' and it nearly happened.”
The GB&I team was helped by Weir’s very presence on the first tee. The GB&I captain suffers from Type 2 diabetes, and was taken to nearby Hexham Hospital due to a dangerously high blood sugar count the day before. “It certainly helped that the boys saw me up and about. It was very emotional today.”
It wasn’t as emotional for U.S. captain Allen Wronowski, the Honorary PGA president. However, he achieved his main aim: he left with the Llandudno Trophy.
“The goal was to bring the Cup back and our boys managed to do that,” Wronowski said.
GB&I took the initiative early on when Benn Barham and Richard Wallis achieved easy victories. Barham defeated Mike Small 4 and 3, while Wallis raced to an early five-hole lead over Bob Sowards and ran out a 3-and-2 winner.
Kelly Mitchum delivered the first point for the U.S. with a 2-and-1 victory over GB&I captain’s pick Greig Hutcheon. Scott Henderson earned a half against JC Anderson after birdies on two of the last three holes.
GB&I's Gareth Wright defeated Jeff Sorenson 2 and 1, while teammate Graham Fox made five birdies to better Rod Perry 3 and 2.
When American Ryan Polzin defeated David Callaway 3 and 2, it took the U.S. to the magical 13 points needed to retain the trophy. A half point out of the remaining three matches would have given the U.S. its fourth consecutive win.
With the U.S. trailing in the last two matches, Matt Dobyns of Fresh Meadow Country Club in New York was the man of the moment. He seemed to be on course to deliver the winning point when he stood on the 17th tee leading Daniel Greenwood by one hole. However, Dobyns double-bogeyed the 17th after a bad drive into the trees, and the match went to all square.
Dobyns pulled his second shot to the 18th green and left himself a horrible pitch shot from a downhill lie. The best he could do was leave a 25-foot par putt. Greenwood found the green but left his 30-foot birdie putt five short. When Dobyns missed his par attempt, Greenwood was left with a five-footer to salvage GB&I pride.
The Englishman knocked in the par putt to ensure the match was halved for the fourth time in its 40-year history.
“That’s the just got to be the scariest putt I’ve ever holed,” Greenwood said. “I totally get what this tournament is about now. It’s the biggest honor as a PGA pro.”