A winning blend

Blending rookies with veteran talent, the United States won the PGA Cup on Sunday in decisive fashion. Team USA remained unbeaten on home soil, and improved to 17-5-3 overall in the Ryder Cup-style competition.


U.S. Captain Jim Remy embraced team member Scott Erdmann after the United States had secured its victory on Sunday. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

By Bob Denney, The PGA of America

SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- The 25th PGA Cup was the first team event conducted at CordeValle, one of many Northern California gems in golf. In this pastoral setting wrapped by the Santa Cruz Mountains, a team of 10 PGA Professionals arrived not knowing much about each other and departed Sunday with a trophy symbolizing that they completed an uncommon mission in the game – making teamwork part of their DNA.

Feeding off two consecutive hallmark days in four-balls and foursomes, where they won nine of 16 matches and halved four others, the Americans closed out Great Britain & Ireland, 17½ to 8½, on a warm afternoon by capturing six singles matches and halving two others. The United States kept its streak intact of never being defeated on home soil in a competition that began in 1973, and owns a 17-5-3 overall record. 

“I've always said that the PGA Cup is the No. 1 event,” said USA Captain Jim Remy, the PGA honorary president from Ludlow, Vt. “It is our Ryder Cup, and it means so much to our members. For me to have the opportunity to captain a PGA Cup Team really is the culmination of my time as a PGA officer. It's just one of the biggest thrills of my life.”

Great Britain & Ireland Captain Russell Weir, who had said that it “would mean everything” to win a PGA Cup in America, praised the U.S. performance.

“We came up against a really strong American team and they deserved their victories,” said Weir, who competed in a record-tying eight PGA Cups and competed in an event-record 40 matches. “There were a lot of close matches today. Like a great British bulldog. This week has given a lot of guys their first experience of PGA Cup matches and I’m sure they will want more.”

Remy, who surveyed his team members months before they would meet for the first time, learned about their tendencies, their style of play, their preferences for a playing partner and their personalities. The data played a major role in Remy determining the right combinations among seven rookies and three veterans.

“We felt comfortable,” said Marty Jertson, a senior design engineer for PING Golf in Phoenix, Ariz., who made the most of his debut as the lone unbeaten, untied member of either team in four outings. 

He capped his week with a 5 and 4 singles victory over reigning PGA Professional Champion Craig Goodfellow of Cumbria, England, with a round featuring a pair of eagles through the 14 holes played. His last “dagger” was holing out from the 10th fairway from 138 yards with a pitching wedge – one of a set of irons he designed – for eagle.

“I keep saying this is like golfer’s heaven here this week," he added. "To play on a team is so much fun. The course, the environment, and the atmosphere, you really cannot beat it. Today, I played nearly perfect golf.”

Jertson teamed earlier in the weekend for three wins with Rob McClellan, the PGA head professional at Butler (Pa.) Country Club. He halved his singles match with England’s Simon Edwards.

“I’ve never played match play in something with this magnitude,” said McClellan, who finished 3-0-1along with another “rookie” turned veteran, Faber Jamerson of Appomattox, Va. “We all played together so well from the start.” 

Jamerson had the best card of the day and one of the biggest battles to earn a point. He was 8 under par through his first 10 holes, before dispatching Gary Brown of North Yorkshire, England, 3 and 2.

The Americans entered the 10 singles matches needing only 2½ points to retain the Llandudno International Golf Trophy for the 12th time in the past 13 competitions. With Remy beaming from the gallery, his team matched the same U.S. victory margin in 2009 at The Carrick in Loch Lomond, Scotland.

Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., 51, the senior member of either team, closed the issue by halving his match with Stuart Little of Gloucestershire, England, in the third singles match of the day. Skinner finished 1-0-3 after turning in a 4-0-0 record in his debut in 2009.

“This meant a lot,” said Skinner. “I’m 51, and you don’t get these opportunities much when you get over the big 50 mark, especially playing with these young guys. Seems like every guy I played with was 6-foot-4 or taller this week and hit it a mile. They have an aggressive personality and they want to win at all costs. It’s a tough game.”

Other singles victories went to Danny Balin of Greenwich, Conn., who began the Sunday parade with a 1-up victory over Christopher Gill of Devon, England.  Brad Lardon of College Station, Texas, routed David Mortimer of County Galway, Ireland 6 and 4; and Scott Erdmann of Tigard, Ore., who ended the day for his team with a 3 and 2 victory over John Kennedy of Oxford, England.

American veteran Mark Sheftic of Blue Bell, Pa., a PGA teaching professional at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., made his second consecutive Cup appearance and finished 3-2-0, including a 1-up singles conquest of England’s John Wells.

“This is a dream come true,” said Sheftic, who scored the decisive U.S. team point in 2009. “Words can’t describe it. We had a special group of guys and we were led by a great Captain in Jim Remy. When you make it to the team, you will have memories that will last forever. I wish every club professional could go through it.”

The 26th PGA Cup will be contested in September 2013 at The Hunting Course at Slaley Hall in Northumberland, England.

Marty Jertson, Phoenix, Ariz. (USA)  def. Craig Goodfellow, Cumbria, England, 5 & 4
Danny Balin, Greenwich, Conn. (USA) def. Christopher Gill, Devon, England 1-up
Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga. (USA) halved with Stuart Little, Gloucestershire, England
Robert Giles, Newry, County Down, Ireland (GB&I) def. Mike Small, Champaign, Ill., 1-up
David Shacklady, Lancashire, England (GB&I) def. David Hutsell, Baltimore, Md., 3 and 2
Mark Sheftic, Blue Bell, Pa. (USA) def. John Wells, Yorkshire, England, 1-up
Rob McClellan, Butler, Pa. (USA) halved with  Simon Edwards, Cumbria, England
Faber Jamerson, Appomattox, Va. (USA) def. Gary Brown, N. Yorkshire, England, 3 and 2
Brad Lardon, College Station, Texas (USA) def. David Mortimer, Knocknacarra, Ireland, 6 and 4
Scott Erdmann, Tigard, Ore.  (USA)  def. John Kennedy, Oxford, England, 3 and 2
Day 3 Total: USA 7, Great Britain & Ireland 3

OVERALL FINAL TOTAL: USA 17½, Great Britain & Ireland  8½