By Bob Denney, The PGA of America
SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- John Kennedy of Oxford, England, who thought that his chance to compete in the PGA Cup had ended last June on the eighth playoff hole at the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship, was smiling broadly Wednesday while dressed in the morning's uniform for the Great Britain & Ireland Team. With Matt Morris of England suffering a hip injury just over a week ago, Kennedy got the call and made quick arrangements with his own club to board the team's flight Monday to San Francisco.
"As they say in college, I was cramming for this trip," said Kennedy. "The PGA of America and everyone at CordeValle have been fantastic. The PGA Cup is the highest level that a club professional can compete, and I am very honored to be here."
Kennedy said that he hasn’t explored whether he has any family ties to the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy. However, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, "My wife's name is Jacqui!"
FANNING THE FLAMES: USA Team member Rob McClellan of Butler (Pa.) Country Club didn't have to look far for an appropriate head cover to match his golf bag colors in this week's PGA Cup. McClellan is a 2002 graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Pa., which carries the nickname "Flames," and boasts the mascot eagle, "Sparky," adorned in red, while and Navy blue.
COACH GOES TO CLASS: USA Team veteran Mike Small of Champaign, Ill., a three-time PGA Professional National Champion, is competing in his fourth PGA Cup. On Wednesday, Small was paired in practice with USA rookie Faber Jamerson of Appomattox, Va. On this trip, Small said he wants to play at a higher level. His 4-9-2 overall Cup record, he said, came as much as being paired against the best GB&I player as well as having too much on his mind.
"I'm committed to playing better, and I hope that I can. I am lucky to have a great staff at home (at the University of Illinois), and a top assistant in Zach Guthrie who makes it easier for me. My seniors on the team said, 'Coach, you go play for your country.' That makes me feel even prouder, and I can tell you that chemistry is huge in an event like this," he explained. "It really teaches me more about coaching. For most of the year, I have been coaching. Now, I'm on the other side of the fence. I understand the pressure that college kids are under in competition."
CORDE VALLE WILDLIFE: In addition to a mother peacock and three babies schmoozing with the visiting media and the USA and Great Britain & Ireland Teams, CordeValle is a 270-acre haven for wildlife, including bobcat, coyote, deer, hawk, mole, muskrat, pheasant, quail, rabbit, snakes, squirrel, turkey, woodpecker, and several different species of birds. The only species that either team is interested in collecting this week: "birdies."
NO MISTAKING THE GARLIC CAPITAL: There is no for any visitor to the PGA Cup to feel short-changed should he or she wish garlic sprinkled over some entree at CordeValle. Some 10 miles south of CordeValle lies Gilroy, Calif., a community of 48,000 that stakes its claim as the "Garlic Capital of the World."
Recognized for its garlic crop and the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival in July, the town offers a variety of foods that include garlic ice cream. Travelers in the area cannot escape the pungent odor from the versatile herb. Gilroy processes more garlic than any other factory in the world; with the most pickled, minced and powdered garlic coming from the town.