Awesome in the afternoon

Despite rarely playing in the alternate-shot format, the United States has earned a remarkable 6 1/2 points out of the eight foursomes matches over the first two days. The secret, the players say, is practice and compatibility.


There were congratulations all around for the U.S. squad after a second straight afternoon of success in foursomes play. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

By T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer

SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- Through two days of the 25th PGA Cup at breathtaking CordeValle, the United States has built an impressive 10 ½ - 5 ½ lead over Great Britain and Ireland. Much of that is thanks to a dominating performance in the two foursomes sessions.

Out of the eight foursomes matches played, the United States has won a remarkable 6 ½ of its 10 ½ points. According to team members and U.S. Captain Jim Remy, the reason for the incredible foursomes display comes down to one word: Comfort.

“We're really pleased with the way the whole team came together this week because you never know going into these things,” said Remy, the Honorary President of the PGA of America. “We made parings early in the week and we stuck with them all week long. We stuck through them through practice, we stuck with them all week. We haven't changed a pairing all week. And I think that's made a big difference because they're so comfortable with each other now that I think it really helped us in foursomes.”

Rob McClellan and Marty Jertson, who by a whopping 6&5 in their Friday foursomes match, sat out during the morning four-ball on Saturday, but were the first team out in the afternoon foursomes. For the second consecutive day, their match didn’t reach the final hole. The pair defated GB&I’s Craig Goodfellow and Robert Giles, 2&1.

“The rest this morning was good,” Jertson said, “but I’ve got to be honest – no one wants to sit out. I wasn't going to say I was tired or anything like that. The more golf you can play here, the better to try to contribute to the team.  But I did feel fresh this afternoon and I played really good on the front nine. Struggled a little bit going into the back, but I was really sharp on the front and I think that helped us out.”

“I think that we're just so comfortable and our games are so similar,” McClellan said. “We hit the same clubs pretty much. And we talk a lot. We're walking, if we have the layup shot we tell each other what shot we want to hit in and we want to play to that shot. We talk about where we want to be and what shots we want to hit. And it's been working.”

Reigning PGA Professional National Champion David Hutsell and Mark Sheftic were the only U.S. duo to lose in the foursomes match this week. They suffered a 2-down loss to GB&I’s John Wells and Gary Brown after Brown hit an incredible third shot on the 17th hole to set up a short par putt for Wells to clinch the match.

While it was a nice victory for GB&I, it was the lone bright spot on a Saturday afternoon where the Americans were nearly unbeatable.

In the third foursomes match on Saturday, Mike Small and Faber Jamerson turned in the most lopsided win, downing GB&I’s John Kennedy and Christopher Gill, 4&3.

“Mike and I have been paired together the last two days and we played very, very similar,” said Jamerson, a PGA Cup rookie. “I feel like I can free him up some and he can free me up some because we can typically both get it up and down from under a trash can, so it kind of makes things a little easier then. But comfort level with him, it's pretty good.”

While 10 singles matches remain to see if the United States can keep its perfect record on home soil intact and hoist the Llandudno Trophy for a 17th time, Jamerson is already ecstatic about his PGA Cup experience.

“This is amazing,” he said. “Absolutely amazing. To stand up on the first tee box and hear, ‘representing the United States,’ is something else. That sends chills up your back.”

In the final foursomes match on Saturday, the elder statesmen of the U.S. side -- Brad Lardon and Sonny Skinner, 46 and 51, respectively -- defeated GB&I’s Stuart Little and David Mortimer, 2&1, when Lardon holed a nervy 6-foot par putt on the 17th hole.

“It was a great putt and I'm very happy it went in,” Lardon said. “It's been a long day and we had a good read right there and I trusted the line and hit it and fortunately I hit my line and with a good speed. It looked good from the word go and shortened our day a little. It's the first time we haven't gone to 18.”

Skinner said the key to winning in the team format is having a partner you can trust and one who possesses a similar game to your own. That, he said, is precisely what he has in having Lardon as a teammate.

“I think we just know each other well,” Skinner said. “We’ve played a good bit of golf over the last 20 something years with each other and our games are similar. He's got more firepower than I do and I think that's necessary for a team. You need to have one guy who can hit it a little better than the others.

“We know each other's clubs, we know that each other is not going to give up, so we're patient with each other and patient with ourselves,” he added. “And even though we're not playing our best, we're still hitting enough quality shots that we hold ourselves in there and that's all you can do.”