Banking on Youth

Captain Russell Weir will bring a relatively inexperienced team -- eight rookies in all -- to CordeValle in September when Team GB&I attempts to become the first in history to win the Llandudno Trophy on U.S. soil.


Unlike his young squad, captain Russell Weir, of Scotland, brings loads of experience to CordeValle. (Getty Images)

Great Britain & Ireland will send eight rookies among its 10-member team to face the United States in the 25th PGA Cup, Sept. 16-18, at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.

The GB&I Team was determined June 17, 2011, at the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship at the PGA National Course at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England. Captain Russell Weir of Scotland, a veteran of eight PGA Cup competitions, will guide a team that bids to become the first from Europe to win the Llandudno Trophy on U.S. soil in the Ryder Cup-style competition for the club professional.

Eight of the 10-player United States PGA Cup Team was determined June 29, 2011, at the 44th PGA Professional National Championship at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club.

Joining 2011 PPNC champion David Hutsell,the PGA director of instruction at The Elkridge Club in Baltimore, Md., on the U.S. team are: Danny Balin of Greenwich, Conn., representing Burning Tree Country Club in Greenwich, Conn., Faber Jamerson of Appotomattox, Va., representing Falling River Country Club in Appomattox, Va.; Scott Erdmann of Tigard, Ore., representing Oswego Lake Country Club in Lake Oswego, Ore.; Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., representing River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga.; Rob McClellan of Butler, Pa., representing Butler (Pa.) Country Club; Mark Sheftic of Blue Bell, Pa., representing Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.; and Mike Small of Champaign, Ill,  the head men's golf coach at the University of Illinois.

The remainder of Team USA, following a two-year points system, will be completed after the 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

Craig Goodfellow, 35, of Cumbria, England, captured the Glenmuir PGA Championship, and returns to the PGA Cup alongside Simon Edwards of Windermere, Cumbria, England, who competed in 2003 and 2005. Goodfellow finished 7-under-par in the 72-hole championship, as the only player under par for four rounds. He became the first Professional Golfers' Association player to win both a national assistant and PGA Professional Championship. Goodfellow won his assistant professional title a decade ago.

"It is good to have the experience of players like Simon Edwards and Craig Goodfellow, who have been there before," said Weir. "Their knowledge will prove invaluable, especially for the PGA Cup rookies. I am sure the guys will be looking forward to the contest as much as I am, as we try to win back the PGA Cup."

"It feels awesome to have won," said Goodfellow. "This tournament has been my goal all year. It was going to be the only tournament I was going to play in. I know that winning gets me but a nice check and into the PGA Cup. That was the biggest motivation, getting into the PGA Cup Team, as missing out on that would have been the worst thing."

"Making the PGA Cup means everything," said 40-year-old Robert Giles of Greenore, England, who made his PGA Cup debut after finishing three strokes back of Goodfellow. "I've played majors, European Tour events, I've played seven times for Ireland in the International Team Championships, winning it twice, and if anything the PGA Cup is the only thing I haven't played in."

Gary Brown, 47, Ganton, England, earned his first PGA Cup berth at 3-under-par 285, overcoming a severe toothache that kept him up one night during Championship week, and seeking over-the-counter painkillers at a 24-hour supermarket.

"This means everything," said Brown, the oldest member of the GB&I Team. "I've played in the Open before, but to make the PGA Cup Team is by far the best."

Begun in 1973 at Pinehurst, N.C., The PGA Cup is structured after the Ryder Cup and brings together 10-member teams of the PGA of America's professionals facing a 10-member team from Great Britain & Ireland. Since the PGA Cup originated in 1973 as an outgrowth of the PGA Professional National Championship, the United States has never been defeated on home soil, and owns a 16-5-3 overall record.