By T.J. Auclair and John Kim, PGA.com
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – In the three sessions he played prior to Sunday’s singles matches, American Marty Jertson was a perfect 3-0 in the 25th PGA Cup here at CordeValle.
With the U.S. starting the final day with a 10 ½ - 5 ½ lead and needing just 2 ½ points to retain the Llandudno Trophy and remain undefeated on home soil, Jertson was a logical choice for the lead-off slot in singles.
The Senior Design Engineer for PING Golf from Phoenix, Ariz., didn’t disappoint U.S. Captain Jim Remy. Jertson had a 4-up lead after holing out on the 10th hole for eagle with a pitching wedge from 138 yards on his way to a 5&4 victory over GB&I’s Craig Goodfellow.
The eagle on No. 10 was Jertson’s second of the day. He also had one on the par-5 sixth hole when he knocked in a long putt.
“I hit a nice 4 iron pin-high on No. 6 and rolled in about a 20-footer for eagle,” Jertson said. “And then I made a nice birdie on 8. Nice putt for birdie on 8. Then, No. 10, I think it was kind of the dagger. I had a little pitching wedge in there, up the hill and had a little backstop long left, I knew I could feed it into. And sure enough I hit it in there and it sucked back. But whenever you see a ball disappear from the fairway, it's always a good thing.”
BIG WEEK FOR BALIN: Greenwich, Conn., native Danny Balin had already created an incredible memory from his first PGA Cup with a hole-in-one on Saturday.
On Sunday, he rallied back from 1 down with three holes to play, birdieing Nos. 16 and 18 to win his match over GB&I’s Christopher Gill, 1 up.
“It's been an unbelievable week,” said Balin. “It's going to last a lifetime. Not only us winning, but the hole-in-one, it was awesome. And coming down the stretch, the guy [Gill] played awesome and we had a great match. Couldn't really make many putts this afternoon, but we just hung on. And you know how golf is, you win some, you lose some and today I guess was just my day with this last hole.”
In terms of, “best experiences in golf,” this week was right up there for Balin, who has played in the last two PGA Championships.
“The first major is always the best, of course, but of course the first PGA Cup, it's just been an unbelievable week and an unbelievable experience and one of – if not the best – golf experience in my life so far, and I'll take home lots of memories from this and hopefully use it going forward.”
SONNY CLINCHES: Sonny Skinner, 51, and the oldest member of the U.S. PGA Cup team, earned the decisive half-point to retain the Cup for the United States.
Skinner took a 1-up lead over GB&I’s Stuart Little after a remarkable par putt on the 17th hole. It wasn’t far from the spot where Skinner’s foursomes partner – Brad Lardon – holed a winning putt Saturday afternoon. That wasn’t lost on Skinner.
“I walked over to the spot where Brad made his putt for us on Saturday and I touched it for good luck,” he said.
On No. 18, Skinner conceded the hole to Little to end in a halve after catching his third shot thin from a greenside bunker. No matter, it was enough to get the job done.
“I'm 51, you don't get these opportunities much when you get over the big 50 mark, so especially playing with these young guys,” Skinner said. “Seems like every guy I played with was 6’4” or taller this week and they hit it a mile. They’ve got an aggressive personality and they want to win at all costs. And it's a tough game.”
A HAPPY CAPTAIN: U.S. Captain and PGA of America Honorary President Jim Remy was delighted that his team was able to extend the overall PGA Cup record to a dominating 17-5-3 and remain undefeated on home soil.
“I'm just so proud of these guys,” Remy said. “They really came together as a team and they're the ones that do all the work and they deserve all the credit. It's a great group of players. They worked hard all week during practice to get ready for this. They acted as a team and they were professional in every way. And I'm just, I'm proud of them. I mean these guys can play golf.”
There was a method to Remy’s madness in putting together the best possible situations in order for the United States to succeed this week.
“I tried to take a look at the players and study them at the PNC and get to know them a little bit,” Remy said. “And we did a little survey form and it was remarkable when we did the survey how alike they came out. They liked many of the same things. And so it made it easy. And then you pair them up and you kind of hope. And I just got lucky this week, because we really clicked, I never changed the parings the entire week.”
A TRUE TOP SHOT: Danny Balin and teammate Scott Erdman might have lost their Saturday morning fourballs match but Balin did end up making ESPN's "Top Plays" Saturday night for his ace on the seventh hole. Balin was excited to make the list but laughed at coming in at No. 10 – behind a turnaround jumpshot from the WNBA and a 20-foot putt from the LPGA Tour.
DOUBLE DIPPING: There have been seven players in history who have competed in both a PGA Cup match and a Ryder Cup. For the United States, they are Jerry Barber and Tommy Jacobs. For Great Britain & Ireland, they are Brian Barnes, Peter Butler, Max Faulkner, Tom Haliburton and Brian Waites.
Barber is the only PGA Championship winner to have also played in a PGA Cup.
SHE SAID 'YES!': The victorious team from the United States might not have even had the biggest "win" of the week at CordeValle. PGA Professional Matt Tashenberg, who had been hired to man the official scoreboard for the PGA Cup, concocted a plan to make the week even more memorable.
With careful planning and cooperation from the staff at CordeValle, Tashenberg proposed to his girlfriend Saturday night, using the official scoreboard.
His now-fiancée, Amy, said yes while the entire U.S. PGA Cup team and supporters came over from a nearby dinner to cheer the couple.