Friday, September 20, 2013


GB and I team picture courtesy of Matt Lewis at Getty Images…/
Back left to right: Nick Brennan (Bowood G&CC), Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf), Scott Henderson (Kings Links) Greig Hutcheon (Banchory), Benn Barham (Kings Hill), Jon Barnes (Ampfield Par 3).
Front: l-r: David Callaway (Milford), Richard Wallis (Walmer & Kingsdown), Russell Weir (captain), Jon Bevan (vice-captain), and Gareth Wright (West Linton).


Russell Weir finally revealed his hand as the pairings for the Friday morning foursomes were unveiled at the opening ceremony of the 26th PGA Cup match at De Vere Slaley Hall.
The Great Britain & Ireland PGA Cup captain, overseeing the team for the second successive match against the Americans, is seeking to mastermind a GB&I victory for the first time since 2005.
Weir’s opening pairing will see Gareth Wright and Richard Wallis, who were expected to be paired together, take on Mark Sheftic and Chip Sullivan – two of the four players in the United States side to have PGA Cup experience.
Wright said: “It’s a great honour to lead out the team, last night I had a bit of time to think about it and obviously I’m really happy to be doing it early and hopefully get some GB&I flags on the board nice and early.
“I knew I was playing with Richard so we were doing a few foursomes. I don’t know anything about the Americans, I know it is one of their most experienced pairings and it would be nice to get a point early but we know we are going to have a tough match.”
Wright’s partner Wallis is looking forward to the task alongside his friend.
He said: “I’m absolutely pumped, I can’t wait. Gareth and I are good friends and have played quite a lot of golf together over the past few months.
“I’ll be nervous, without a shadow of a doubt, opening for GB&I but it’s not as if you’re on your own, it’s not like a singles where you’re standing there and you’ve got to perform. I’ve got a partner to hold my hand.”
The ‘H’ squad of Greig Hutcheon and Scott Henderson will go out last against Mike Small, a four-time PGA Cup player, and Bob Sowards, who played in 2005 PGA Cup.
Henderson is relishing the test with Hutcheon against what is, on paper, the Americans’ strongest pairing.
“We’ve been stuck out the back and when Russell told us we’d be pairing number four and the US will possibly back load a little bit. When I heard his [Mike Small] name I thought perfect. They’re all good but you want to play the strongest pairing as it’s a good measure. You always want to play the best.
“Playing with Hutch is what we both wanted. Hutch and I have known each other for decades since junior golf. We know each other’s game inside out as we play a lot of golf together. We fight each other and have a laugh and we’re best of friends. It was always a possibility and it’s worked out great for us.”
Hutcheon, who has had an incredible season both domestically in Scotland and his fleeting European Tour events, echoed the sentiments of his partner.
“If they are regarded as America’s top pairing then it’s the perfect place to start,” he said.
“I’ve been playing brilliant all year, getting tired towards the end of the season but I don’t think there will be any problems with the energy levels come tomorrow morning.”
In between, rookies from each side will pit their wits against each other with Benn Barham and David Callaway taking JC Anderson, the oldest player in the tournament, and former Walker Cup player Kelly Mitchum.
Barham, a campaigner of almost 200 European Tour events, said: I can’t wait. I’m buzzing. We’ve had a few practice rounds and it’s been difficult to switch on because once the games start I’m going to be giving it 100 per cent and I didn’t want to waste any energy.
“I’ve got a great partner in David, who’s a really strong player, a big hitter, but he’s got a great short game as well. He’s a big lad who we’ve nicknamed him Hercules. I couldn’t wish for more in a partner.”
Callaway, the joint youngest player in the event at 31, admitted the nerves were starting but had an experienced team mate open his PGA Cup account.
“The nerves are not too bad but they’re definitely hitting home, I can’t wait to get going,” he said.
“I’m very excited as Benn’s a great player and I’m looking forward to playing with him. We’ve played in practice and gelled well together. He has great experience, which is second to none.”
The third pairing out sees Graham Fox and Jon Barnes, who played together in the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship, taking on Rod Perry, the US PGA National Champion, and Jeff Sorensen.
Fox said: “I just can’t wait to get started. It’s been quite a long wait when you’re out on Monday and desperate for it to start. I’m chomping at the bit. Jon and I played together at the PGA Professional Championship and we’ve played a couple days together here and been very comfortable.”
Barnes added: I’ve played a lot of foursomes, it is the purest form of golf and will be good. I love this situation.”
Sitting out the first session is Glenmuir PGA Professional champion Dan Greenwood and Nick Brennan.
Weir, drawing on his experience of captaining the side two years ago in America and eight as a player, explained the reasoning behind his selections.
“I wanted to send out a show of strength with some real young strong players out first and Gareth and Richard are a great combination. I hope they might intimidate some of the Americans and inspire the rest of the team,” he said.
“Then I’ve got the ideal anchor pairing in Greig (Hutcheon) and Scott (Henderson) who are solid and experienced and can deal with anything that’s thrown at them.
“Benn and David are a very good pairing, I’ve got a lot of confidence in them, I think they are both super players. I watched them play and they are very good.
“Graham (Fox) and Jon (Barnes) have gelled so well, as the week has gone on they have struck up a great partnership and I’m just delighted with that partnership as well.
“It was so hard to leave out Dan (Greenwood) and Nick (Brennan). Dan is our club professional champion so that just shows how difficult it is. I explained to Dan, you’ve just got to be ready to play the next four sessions.
“My message to the team will be to go out and play hard and do yourselves justice. They’ll all be good, close matches and we just have to give a 100 per cent and believe in ourselves.”

Friday Morning Foursomes (USA first)

Match 1 – 7.30am            Mark Sheftic & Chip Sullivan        v              Gareth Wright & Richard Wallis
Match 2 – 7.42am            JC Anderson & Kelly Mitchum    v              Benn Barham & David Callaway
Match 3 – 7.54am            Rod Perry & Jeff Sorensen           v              Graham Fox & Jon Barnes
Match 4 – 8.06am            Bob Sowards & Mike Small          v              Greig Hutcheon & Scott Henderson        



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