Wednesday Notebook: Secret to winning PGA Cup lies in the valley

Bob Sowards at the PGA Cup
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Bob Sowards says the PGA Cup will be won by the team that best masters Slaley Hall's tricky greens.
Bob Denney
The PGA of America

Series: PGA

Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 | 3:03 p.m.

NORTHUMBERLAND, England – Former PGA Professional National Champion Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, making his second PGA Cup appearance, said that the Hunting Course at Slaley Hall doesn’t remind him of any particular course that he has played. But, the greens, with their tricky slopes, there is a similarity.

“There is a valley, which is north of here, where all the putts get pulled,” said Sowards, a PGA teaching professional at New Albany (Ohio) Country Club. “So, if it looks like it’s breaking an inch, and the valley is to the right, it’s going to break a foot. Mike Small (PGA Cup teammate from Champaign, Ill.) and I were talking about it. These greens remind me of Pebble Beach in the fact that downhill they are extremely fast and uphill they are really slow. You have to know where the valley is to putt well.”

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Sowards, the 2004 National Champion, said that the USA team will be the underdogs this week. Not only have seven of the 10 members of the Great Britain & Ireland Team played the Hunting Course in the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship last June, but many are in an enviable club professional job position.

“I read their bios and then sat with two guys at the Welcome Dinner last night,” said Sowards, “They told me that they play 10 months a year, which is kind of unheard of as far as our qualifying process. I feel that we are underdogs, but typically the USA does pretty well as underdogs.”

CAPTAIN LIKES HIS TEAM’S CHEMISTRY: “I’m really excited, because we thought we had a pretty good line-up and we had some great players,” said U.S. Captain Allen Wronowski, the PGA honorary president from Bel Air, Md. “Watching how they are meshing as a group and as a unit, to see how they are supporting one another, to see how they are having fun with one another. 

“The two-person teams that I set up ahead of time that would be the person that they would play with for the week,” he explained. “That was intended to build up a comfort level and you can watch them building confidence each day.”

Wronowski said that the players will get adjusted to the Hunting Course’s sloping greens.

“The guys have really adjusted well and are figuring the break out,” said Wronowski. “They are still trying to work the speed out. I’m pretty sure by Friday we’ll have it.”