United States Takes Lead Over Great Britain & Ireland After Day 1 of the PGA Cup
Wyatt Worthington II of the United States and Ryan Vermeer of the United States during afternoon foursome matches for the 30th PGA Cup at Foxhills Golf Club on September 16, 2022 in Ottershaw, England. (Photo by Matthew Harris/PGA of America)
It’s a solid start out of the gate.
That’s what the United States Team accomplished on Day 1 of the 30th PGA Cup at Foxhills Club & Resort in Surrey, England, as the Americans surged to a 5.5-2.5 lead over Great Britain & Ireland.
Riding a blistering back nine in the afternoon Foursomes across the board, which was capped off by the rookie U.S. Team of Wyatt Worthington II and Jared Jones—who stormed back from a 3-down deficit through 11 holes to secure a half-point and finish all-square—the United States’ pursuit of capturing the PGA Cup’s Llandudno Trophy on European soil for the first time since 2009 is alive.
On the par 5, 528-yard 18th hole, with the whole U.S. Team watching and cheering, Jones drilled a 3-wood 270 yards onto the green, setting them up with a two-putt birdie to win the hole, halve the match, and accentuate the Americans’ afternoon.
“I’m still in disbelief by that amazing shot, fairytale stuff,” exclaimed his partner Worthington, of Gahanna, Ohio, describing Jones' second shot on the final hole.
“That might have been the most beautiful 3-wood approach I have ever seen,” said U.S. Captain Suzy Whaley.
Each member of Whaley’s squad competed today, and eight players earned at least a half-point or more. Yet, Whaley wasn’t ready to rest on the day’s laurels.
“We are starting over tomorrow,” she explained. “We are going to stay where our feet are and not get ahead of ourselves. We still have a job to do and can’t get overly excited. Yes, it was a great day, and we will start again tomorrow with confidence.”
Great Britain & Ireland Captain David Russell said his team remains hopeful. “It was just a case of the Americans holing a few more putts than we did, so hopefully tomorrow that can change. It changes so quickly with the fourballs and the foursomes. You do go through periods in the match where it looks like it’s all done and dusted. That’s the wonderful thing about this format, the emotions change so quickly, so we’re not too depressed.”
The day was particularly sweet for Minnesota natives and good friends Ben Polland and Alex Beach, who captured two points teaming up together.
“Ben and I have been great friends for a long time, and our games compliment one another very well,” said Beach. “We find a lot of comfort in what may be an uncomfortable situation being out here. Pressure is a privilege, and I think we’ve handled it well thus far.”
Meanwhile, Californian Michael Block and Virginia’s Larkin Gross, the 2021 PGA Professional Player of the Year, earned two points as well.
“We found something yesterday in practice when we played together for 18 holes,” said Gross. “It was a good day, and I think we played really well all day.”
The afternoon delight for the U.S. was a breakout from the morning Fourball session when the teams finished in a 2-2 standoff.
Block and Gross first played the GB&I duo of Matthew Cort and Daniel Whitby-Smith. The Americans went 3-up after just seven holes. Cort and Whitby-Smith cut the lead to one. Yet, the U.S. squad held serve on the 18th to claim the first point of the day, 1-up, thanks to a clutch eagle by Gross.
It wasn’t long before the Americans secured a second point thanks to Beach and Polland, who beat Greig Hutcheon and James Ruth 5&3 to take an early 2-0 lead.
Great Britain & Ireland got its first point on the board, as David Higgins and Ashley Mansell beat America’s Ryan Vermeer and Jesse Mueller 2&1.