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With his tie for fourth place on Wednesday, Eric Lippert of Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey, Calif., sealed a spot on his first U.S. PGA Cup squad. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Small to lead 10-member 2009 U.S. PGA Cup team to Scotland

The 10-member U.S. PGA Cup team was finalized Wednesday, with new PGA Professional National Championship winner Mike Small leading the way. The 24th PGA Cup will be played in September in Loch Lomond, Scotland.

By Bob Denney, PGA.com Contributor

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. -- PGA Professional National Champion Mike Small of Champaign, Ill., will head a 10-member United States Team to face Great Britain & Ireland in the 24th PGA Cup, Sept. 18-20, at The Carrick at De Vere Deluxe Resort in Loch Lomond, Scotland.

Small, 43, the men’s coach at the University of Illinois in Champaign, won the 42nd PGA Professional National Championship Wednesday by one stroke at Twin Warriors Golf Club and will make his third appearance on the U.S. Team in the premier international competition for PGA Professionals. Small competed on the 2005 and ’07 U.S. Team.

The 24th PGA Cup will be contested at The Carrick, a 7,086-yard, par-71 layout that was designed by Doug Carrick in 2007.

The U.S. Team, guided by Captain Brian Whitcomb of Bend, Ore., the Honorary President of The PGA of America, also includes 2008 PGA Professional National Champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City, Mich., who makes his first PGA Cup appearance, and 1995 National Champion Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah. Hebert, the PGA head professional at Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, Mich., clinched a berth by his victory a year ago, and Schneiter, a PGA assistant professional Schneiter’s Pebblebrook Links in Sandy, Utah, earned his second-career berth by finishing tied for second in the National Championship.

They will be joined on the U.S. Team by: Ryan Benzel of Bothell, Wash., representing Battle Creek Golf Course in Tulalip, Wash.; Mark Sheftic of Ambler, Pa., representing Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.; Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., representing River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga.; Kyle Flinton of Oklahoma City, Okla., representing Quail Creek Golf and Country Club in Oklahoma City; Eric Lippert of Marina, Calif., representing Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey, Calif.; Lee Rinker of Jupiter, Fla., representing Emerald Dunes Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah, representing Schneiter’s Pebblebrook in Sandy, Utah; and Craig Thomas of White Plains, N.Y., representing Metropolis Country Club in White Plains.

Benzel, a PGA teaching professional at Battle Creek Golf Course, competed in 2007 along with Rinker, the PGA director of golf at Emerald Dunes, who will make his second career PGA Cup trip that includes a berth on the 1992 U.S. Team. Schneiter, a PGA assistant professional at Schneiter’s Pebblebrook, last competed on the U.S. Team in 1996.

The Great Britain & Ireland Team was determined June 19, following the Glenmuir PGA Championship at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire, Scotland. The GB& I Team is led by Captain Gary Alliss of Sutton Coldfield, England.

Leading Great Britain & Ireland’s bid this fall is veteran Paul Wesslingh, the PGA head professional at Kedelston Park in Derby, England. Wesselingh will be making his sixth consecutive PGA Cup appearance.

Joining Wesselingh will be newly-crowned Glenmuir PGA Champion James Lee of Caerphilly Golf Club in South Wales; Andrew Barnett of North Wales Golf Range in Denbighshire, Wales; and Jon Bevan of Wessex Golf Centre in Weymouth, Dorset, England – who also competed on the 2007 GB&I Team.

Alliss, the head professional and manager of the PGA National Golf Academy at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England, also captained the 2007 GB&I Team.

Rounding out the GB& I team are: 2008 Glenmuir Champion Paul Simpson of West Berkshire, England, who played in 1998, and first-time competitors Jeremy Robinson of Twyford Golf Range in Evesham, England; James Harris of Tonbridge Golf Centre in Kent, England; Barry Taylor of Houghwood Golf Club in St. Helens, England; Craig Matheson of Falkirk Tryst Golf Club in Falkirk, England Will Barnes of Garstang Golf Club of Lancashire, England.

The PGA Cup, which originated in 1973, brings together the finest PGA club professionals in the U.S. and Great Britain & Ireland.

The United States owns a 15-5-3 advantage in the PGA Cup, and has never been defeated upon home soil. The U.S. retained possession of the Llandudno International Trophy, awarded to the winning team, with a 13½ to 12½ victory in September 2007 at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga.

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