Excitement is building at De Vere Slaley Hall ahead of this week’s hosting of the prestigious PGA Cup matches between GB&I and the United States of America. The Northumberland venue will welcome a selection of the world’s leading club professionals for three days of intense competition, with GB&I hoping to lift the trophy for the first time since 2005.
Starting on Friday, the PGA Professionals equivalent of the Ryder Cup will see two days of morning foursomes and afternoon fourball match-ups ahead of the deciding Sunday singles matches.
The biennial contest celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, with the US team dominating proceedings in recent years following three consecutive victories; however the GB&I team of rookies will be looking to strike back on home soil.
The GB&I team is made up of ten players making their PGA Cup debut. They will be captained by Russell Weir, who played a record-equalling eight times in the contest and will be looking to impart his wealth of knowledge onto his talented side. His line-up includes former European Tour player Benn Barham, and Dan Greenwood, who claimed the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship at Slaley Hall in June with a nine-stroke winning margin. The team hope that their experience from playing the magnificent Hunting course under full tournament conditions will stand them in good stead and give them the upper hand over the American team.
Three Scots are included in the side; Graham Fox, from Clydeway Golf, Greig Hutcheon, from Banchory Golf Club and Scott Henderson from Kings Links. Scotland-based Gareth Wright, who plays out of West Linton, is also in the side.
The GB&I team is made up of ten players making their PGA Cup debut.
The US team features four PGA Cup veterans who have played in eight overall PGA Cups and bring a host of experiences to the team. This includes Mark Shaftic and Mike Small, who between them have competed in an impressive eight majors. The team’s experience is matched by a host of talent amongst the six rookies who boast impressive résumés, including reigning PGA National Champion, Rod Perry, who has teed it up in no fewer than 15 PGA Tour events. The side will be captained by Allen Wronowski, Honorary President, the PGA of America, who hopes to continue the winning momentum for the American team across the 7,036-yard championship layout designed by the late Dave Thomas, renowned golf course architect.
Keith Pickard, the regional golf director at De Vere said: “The excitement is certainly building around Slaley Hall ahead of these intensely competitive match-ups. Following the successful staging of the PGA Seniors Championship at the resort in previous years, this is now the premier golf event in the North East this year and represents the best opportunity for local fans to come along and witness top level professional golf in the exciting matchplay format.
“Steve Cram and his team of greenkeepers always do a fantastic job in preparing the course, and I’m sure it will play host to some stunning golf this weekend.”
Admission and parking is free for all spectators across the three days of the event (Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd).
Captain Russell Weir
Benn Barham (Kings Hill Golf Club), Jonathan Barnes (Ampfield Par 3 Golf Club), Nicolas Brennan (Bowood Golf & Country Club), David Callaway (Milford Golf Club), Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf), Daniel Greenwood (Forest Pines Hotel & Golf Resort), Scott Henderson (Kings Links Golf Centre), Greig Hutcheon (Banchory Golf Club), Richard Wallis (Walmer & Kingsdown Golf Club), Gareth Wright (West Linton Golf Club).
Captain Allen Wronowski
JC Anderson (Missouri Bluffs Golf Club), Matt Dobyns (Fresh Meadow Country Club), Kelly Mitchum (Pinehurst), Rod Perry (Cranes Lake Golf and Country Club), Ryan Polzin (Royal Oaks Country Club), Mark Sheftic (Merion Golf Club), Mike Small (University of Illinois), Jeff Sorenson (Columbia Golf Club), Bob Sowards (New Albany Country Club), Chip Sullivan (Hanging Rock Golf Club).