U.S. Captain Suzy Whaley Looks to Lead Team to PGA Cup Victory
By Matt Adams
(Back row); Michael Block of the United States, Larkin Gross of the United States, Ryan Vermeer of the United States, Wyatt Worthington II of the United States, Ben Polland of the United States and Jared Jones (Front Row); Frank Bensel Jr. of the United States, Omar Uresti of the United States, Captain and PGA of America Honorary President, Suzy Whaley, Alex Beach of the United States and Jesse Mueller of the United States pose with the Llandudno trophy during the 30th PGA Cup at Foxhills Golf Club on September 15, 2022 in Ottershaw, England. (Photo by Matthew Harris/PGA of America)
As a celebrated PGA Coach and Teacher, an accomplished Professional Player and a national broadcast personality, honorary PGA of America President Suzy Whaley has graced some of the biggest stages in golf. But few of them have given her a bigger thrill than the stage she’ll occupy at Foxhills Country Club and Resort in Surrey, U.K., as she leads the U.S. team in the 2022 PGA Cup.
“It’s an honor,” Whaley says of her captaincy, her second stint in such a role after leading the U.S. team to victory in the Women’s PGA Cup in 2019. “To be able to Captain this group and hopefully keep the Trophy with us is something that is more of an honor for me than anything.”
The PGA Cup, with a format reminiscent of the Ryder Cup, is a biennial tournament pitting 10 of the best playing PGA of America Professionals against their counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland in a team competition.
It’s a unique chance for these individuals, the heart and soul of the PGA of America, to get some well-deserved recognition from an international audience.
“It’s important for any brand to showcase the best of the best, and that’s what these 10 gentlemen will be doing for the PGA of America this week, and what five women will be doing in October at the Women’s PGA Cup,” says Whaley. “It’s always special when you get to highlight the women and men who do the hard work in the industry of this game.”
Going into this year’s event, the 30th PGA Cup played since 1973, the U.S. team holds an 18-7 lead over its transatlantic rivals, with four ties. Like the women, the U.S. men last won in 2019, but it’s been 13 years since they hoisted the tournament’s prize, the Llandudno International Trophy, on foreign soil.
It won’t be easy to break that streak. The U.S. team is stacked with talent, and includes Jesse Mueller, the 2022 PGA Professional Champion. But the Great Britain and Ireland team, captained by longtime European Tour Professional DJ Russell, is just as formidable.
“I’ve heard through the grapevine that they’ve been playing [Foxhills],” Whaley says with a grin when asked if her competition holds any home-field advantage. “Last time we were there, for the PGA Cup in 2017, the course was pretty straightforward, but you just never know what’s changed in five years.”
Whaley says she and her team will assess things when they arrive. Regardless of what they find, though, she’s not worried. Her roster comprises players from across the U.S. who have seen just about everything a golf course can throw at them. The toughest part, at least for Whaley, will be figuring out the most effective pairings for the fourball portion of the event.
“[The U.S. players] have unbelievable strengths, and it’s my job to make sure we put them in a position where they’re the most comfortable and feel the most confident to compete,” says Whaley. “You can’t control the other team’s players, you can’t control their scores, you can’t control their pairings — what they do is what they do. But we are going to put our best foot forward at all times, and hopefully that turns into a win.”
Whaley is extremely competitive, but in the case of the PGA Cup, she insists, there are more important things than wins or losses. No matter what happens, she and her team will hold their heads high in the U.K., and Whaley wants American golfers, particularly PGA of America Members, to take notice.
“Making the PGA Cup team is an unbelievable accomplishment,” she says. “I hope these guys’ members, their clients, the people they’re around in whatever part of the industry they’re in, are aware of that and are incredibly proud of them, because it is a big deal.”
The 30th PGA Cup kicks off Friday, September 16, and concludes Sunday, September 18.