SAN MARTIN, Calif. (September 20, 2015) — While most view the seventh day as little more than an end-of-week respite, the Great Britain & Ireland PGA Cup Team saw 10 Sunday singles matches as an opportunity to vanquish the specter of 13 previous trips Stateside and 13 return flights without the Llandudno International Trophy in tow.
By winning a pair of stunning turnaround matches, GB&I earned 5.5 of 10 possible points on Sunday to claim the 27th PGA Cup, 13.5 to 12.5, over their PGA counterparts from United States.
The premier international competition for club Professionals between the PGA of America and The Professional Golfers' Association went down to the final match, the final hole, and the final putt.
With the PGA Cup in the balance, Ireland's Niall Kearney converted a remarkable up-and-down from well beyond the back of CordeValle's 18th green to halve the hole, win the match (1 up) and punch the ticket for the Llandudno Trophy's first transatlantic flight as GB&I property.
Staring at a watery grave and a false front beyond the hole, Kearney's deft chip cleared a deep bunker in the foreground and rolled within seven feet of the hole.
After Alan Morin, the American's anchor in singles and the PGA Assistant Professional at The Falls Country Club in Lake Worth, Florida, saw his 45-foot bid for birdie slide aside, Kearney quickly stepped forward and rammed home the Cup clincher. "I could not tell you exactly what was in my head," said Kearney when asked about the putt.
"I heard my caddie (Eddie Icaza) say, âjust hit it right edge' and that is what I did," said Kearney, who last experienced match play during the 2009 Walker Cup.
History was not on GB&I's side. Not only had it never won the PGA Cup on U.S. soil, it had won only once in 14 PGA Cups dating to 1986.
That stigma came to an end today, but GB&I Captain Jon Bevan had inkling late Saturday that his assembled squad was up to the challenge. "It's got to change sometime. I've got the right personalities in place and the right characters on the golf course."
Almost 24 hours later, with the Llandudno International Trophy firmly in hand, Bevan expressed enormous pride in his "boys." He boasted that "all of them can look at each other and know that nothing was left out here. They left it all in California, everything at CordeValle."
After two days and four sessions of partner play, the United States and their PGA counterparts from Great Britain & Ireland were all square, 8-8. Sunday singles would decide the PGA Cup. Ten matches. No rest for the weary.
But the Americans' early advantage, they led five of the first six matches in Sunday's early stages, slowly evaporated in CordeValle's triple-digit heat.
Jason Levermore, the PGA Head Professional at Channels Golf Club in Essex, England, posted the Cup's vital swing point by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt, also on 18, to win his the match, 1 up, over Jamie Broce, the Head Coach of the men's golf team at the University of Toledo.
After walking to the 11th tee down three holes, Levermore carded two eagles and three birdies in the last eight holes to surge past Broce, who played well on the backside, yet came away without a point. With a wedge in hand, Levermore holed out from 140 yards for eagle on 11 to trigger his charge.
Michael Block, the PGA Head Professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California, sparked USA with a 2-and-1 victory over previously undefeated Gareth Wright of Peeblesshire, Scotland. The victory was the third in four weekend matches for Block, the 2014 PGA Professional National Champion.
GB&I's first point Sunday came via David Dixon dispatching of the University of Texas at Arlington's Head Coach Stuart Deane, 5 and 4, in the Match No. 2. Dixon, the PGA Teaching Professional at Enmore Park Golf Club in Somerset, England, played in all five sessions for GB&I Captain Jon Bevan at CordeValle, winning three of a possible five points.
In the third match, PGA Teaching Professional at Clydeway Golf in Glasgow, Scotland Graham Fox carded five consecutive birdies on Holes 9-13 to go from down two holes to up three in his match against Ben Polland, the PGA Assistant Professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, New York. Fox ultimately won, 4 and 2.
At the end of three hotly contested days in the Northern California sun, Allen Wronowski, the PGA's Honorary President and United States Captain was upbeat despite the loss, "GB&I deserves all the credit in the world. I don't look at it as we lost. They won. We got beat by a really really good team that played their best."
Nineteen of the PGA Cup's 20 competitors earned points on behalf of their teams, yet only two will depart CordeValle undefeated: GB&I's Jason Levermore (3-0-2) and USA's Omar Uresti (3-0-1).
Like the Llandudno Trophy, the 28th PGA Cup will return to Great Britain at a site to be determined.
Final 27th PGA Cup Total: GB&I 13.5, USA 12.5
All-Time PGA Cup: USA leads series, 17-6-4
Sunday Singles (Final Match Record in 27th PGA Cup)
Match #1: Michael Block (USA) def. Gareth Wright (GB&I), 2 and 1
Match #2: David Dixon (GB&I) def. Stuart Deane (USA), 4 and 3
Match #3: Graham Fox (GB&I) def. Ben Polland (USA), 4 and 2
Match #4: Jason Levermore (GB&I) def. Jamie Broce (USA), 1 up
Match #5: Omar Uresti (USA) def. Michael Watson (GB&I), 1 up
Match #6: Matt Dobyns (USA) def. Cameron Clark (GB&I), 2 and 1
Match #7: Lee Clarke (GB&I) halved with Sean Dougherty (USA)
Match #8: Bob Sowards (USA) def. Paul Hendriksen (GB&I) 2 up
Match #9: Alex Wrigley (GB&I) def. Grant Sturgeon (USA), 3 and 1
Match #10: Niall Kearney (GB&I) def. Alan Morin (USA), 1 up
Saturday Morning Four Balls
MATCH #1: Gareth Wright & Jason Levermore (GB&I) def. Michael Block & Stuart Deane (USA), 3 and 2
MATCH #2: Niall Kearney & Alex Wrigley (GB&I) def. Matt Dobyns & Ben Polland (USA), 1 up
MATCH #3: Omar Uresti & Sean Dougherty (USA) halved with Graham Fox & David Dixon (GB&I)
MATCH #4: Alan Morin & Grant Sturgeon (USA) def. Michael Watson & Paul Hendriksen (GB&I), 4 and 2
Friday Afternoon Foursomes
Michael Block & Stuart Deane (USA) def. Graham Fox David Dixon (GB&I), 4 and 3
Ben Polland & Matt Dobyns (USA) halved with Jason Levermore & Gareth Wright (GB&I),
Omar Uresti & Sean Dougherty (USA) def. Niall Kearney & Alex Wrigley (GB&I), 3 and 1
Bob Sowards & Jamie Broce (USA) def. Cameron Clark & Lee Clarke (GB&I), 8 and 7
Friday Morning Four Balls
Michael Watson & Cameron Clark (GB&I) def. Ben Polland & Matt Dobyns (USA), 3 and 2
Graham Fox & David Dixon (GB&I) def. Bob Sowards & Jamie Broce (USA), 2 and 1
Omar Uresti & Sean Dougherty def. Lee Clarke & Paul Hendriksen (GB&I), 1 up
Jason Levermore & Gareth Wright (GB&I) def. Alan Morin & Grant Sturgeon (USA), 3 and 2