US PGA Cup team set, six rookies and four veterans heading to England

By john.holmes

JC Anderson

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JC Anderson of O’Fallon, Mo., was one of two players joining the U.S. team after the PGA Championship.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The United States will send six rookies and four veterans into the premier international showcase for a PGA club professional to face Great Britain & Ireland in the 26th PGA Cup, to be conducted Sept. 20-22, at Slaley Hall’s Hunting Course in Northumberland, England.

The 10-member U.S. Team was determined Friday night at the 95th PGA Championship, concluding a two-year points system that comprises the past two PGA Professional National Championships and two PGA Championships. Two players – JC Anderson of O’Fallon, Mo., and 2004 PGA Professional National Champion Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio – made the team after the second round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y.

They will join the following eight members who grabbed berths in June at the 46th PGA Professional National Championship at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort: reigning PGA Professional National Champion Rod Perry of Port Orange,  Fla.; 2012 National Champion Matt Dobyns of Glen Head, N.Y.; Kelly Mitchum of Southern Pines, N.C.; Ryan Polzin of Houston, Texas; three-time PGA Professional National Champion Mike Small of Champaign, Ill.; Mark Sheftic of Blue Bell, Pa.; Jeff Sorenson of Blaine, Minn.; and 2007 National Champion Chip Sullivan of Troutville, Va.

Sheftic, Small, Sowards and Sullivan have played in eight overall PGA Cups and own a combined 16-17-3 record. They will face a Great Britain & Ireland Team composed of 10 rookies – a record since the competition began in 1973 at Pinehurst, N.C.

“We have an outstanding mix of talent and veteran experience,” said U.S. Captain Allen Wronowski of Bel Air, Md., the honorary president of The PGA of America. “I have been fortunate to be in the Team Room at a Ryder Cup and a PGA Cup, and the key is to have everyone feel comfortable with one another. You have to listen to the players and feel who they are comfortable playing with, and then go from there. The PGA Cup is a rare opportunity to represent the red, white and blue. You rarely have such an opportunity in a lifetime.”

Wronowski said that past international competitions have proven how talented the first-time players have become. “I think rookie is very misleading,” he said. “GB&I have put together a great team, which has already played their National Championship on the PGA Cup site (Hunting Course) and have a lot of competitive rounds under their belts. It will be a great challenge, and our team is excited and looking forward to the trip.”

For the second straight PGA Cup, Great Britain & Ireland will be captained by Russell Weir of Dunoon, Scotland, who saw his 2011 Team fall to the U.S., 17½ to 8½, at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif. The U.S. owns a 17-5-3 advantage in the competition, and last surrendered possession of the Llandudno International Golf Trophy, in 2005, in Ireland.

GB&I has changed its selection process to feature two past National Championships, the season-ending Titleist Playoffs, and added a Captain’s Pick.

The 2013 Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship, played on the Hunting Course in June, determined the bulk of the GB&I PGA Cup Team.

“I learned a lot having watched the past PGA Cup, and found that I can do a much better job now,” said Weir, who competed in a record-tying eight PGA Cups from 1986 through 2000. “Having watched the Glenmuir PGA Championship, I feel that we have a very strong team. I was impressed how well that they handled the difficult playing conditions in June. That ability to handle adversity and having played the course gives them an advantage. They know where the difficult places are on the course. However, the Americans also will bring an outstanding team and they will find their own way to get adjusted to the course.”

The two teams will compete on the 7,036-yard, par-72 Hunting Course, designed in 1993 by former European Ryder Cup member Dave Thomas. The course was named after Samuel Hunting, the original owner of Slaley Hall, which since 1996 has hosted a combined 15 European Tour and European Senior Tour events.

The Great Britain & Ireland Team is led by Glenmuir PGA Professional National Champion Dan Greenwood of Lincolnshire, England, who won by an eight-stroke margin at the Hunting Course. He is joined by Gareth Wright, a PGA teaching professional from Pebbleshire, Scotland, who tied for 71st last month at the Open Championship at Muirfield. The remainder of the team features Benn Barham of Kent, England; Jon Barnes of Hampshire, England; Nick Brennan of Wiltshire, England; David Callaway of Surrey, England; Graham Fox of Glasgow, Scotland; Scott Henderson of Aberdeen, Scotland; Richard Wallis of Kent, England; and Greig Hutcheon of Kincardineshire, Scotland.


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