PGA Cup lunch break not tasty for GB&I captain

SAN MARTIN, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:   Gareth Wright of the Great Britain & Ireland team hits a tee shot on the fifth hole during the Friday Four-Ball matches at the 27th PGA Cup at CordeValle on September 18, 2015 in San Martin, California.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
SAN MARTIN, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Gareth Wright of the Great Britain & Ireland team hits a tee shot on the fifth hole during the Friday Four-Ball matches at the 27th PGA Cup at CordeValle on September 18, 2015 in San Martin, California. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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CAPTAIN Jon Bevan bemoaned an unpalatable lunch break as GB&I let a flying start slip on the opening day of the 27th PGA Cup in California.

Leading 3-1 after the opening fourball session at CordeValle, the visitors went down 3.5-0.5 in the afternoon foursomes to trail 4.5-3.5 to the US in the club pros’ equivalent of the Ryder Cup.

“They obviously used lunch better than we did,” groaned Bevan, who came into the event with high hopes of becoming the first GB&I captain to taste victory on American soil.

“I’m the captain so I take responsibility - it won’t happen again tomorrow, when we will be ready to go once more.”

On a sun-kissed day in the Golden State, the Americans produced some stunning golf in the alternate shot format, which used to be their Achilles’ heel in Transatlantic contests.

In the top afternoon match, Michael Block and Stuart Deane were five-under for 15 holes as they beat Graham Fox and David Dixon 4&3.

And, at the bottom of the order, Bob Sowards and Jamie Broce were an astonishing seven-under for 11 holes in crushing Cameron Clark and Lee Clark 8&7.

That win equalled the biggest victory in the event, achieved in 1990 against Scottish pair Brian Barnes and David Scott.

GB&I were in danger of suffering a whitewash in the afternoon session until Gareth Wright and Jason Levermore recovered from being two down with five to play to finish all square against Matt Dobyns and Ben Polland.

After winning the 14th and 17th, Wright and Levermore looked as though they might snatch a dramatic victory but Polland, who, at 25, is the youngest-ever US competitor in the event, holed a 12-footer at the last for a half in birdie-4s.

“This afternoon was what I expected from the Americans in the morning, when we definitely had the better of things,” added Bevan. “We will regroup and go out tomorrow showing the same fight.”

US captain Allen Wronowski was delighted with his side’s response in the afternoon and heaped praise on Polland, saying: “He has ice water in his veins. He is 25 going on 40.”

Earlier, Tartan Tour pair Fox and Wright had helped GB&I to their best start in the biennial bout for more than 20 years.

They both won their matches as the visitors, bidding to claim a first victory on US soil, took the opening fourballs 3-1.

Fox, the 2012 Scottish Professional champion, teamed up with Englishman Dixon to record a 2&1 win over Sowards and Broce.

The GB&I pair won five holes out of six around the turn - four of them with birdies - after being one down on the sixth tee.

Fox, who is attached to Clydeway Golf in Uddingston, sparked the purple patch by rolling in a 10-foot birdie putt at the seventh.

Somerset-based Dixon, a former Saint Omer Open winner on the European Tour, then holed for birdies at the 11th and 12th before shutting the door on the Americans with a 15-footer for another one at the 17th.

“I don’t think I’ve ever tried so hard with a putt for a long, long time,” admitted Dixon after helping GB&I to the same opening scoreline as the 1994 match at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida.

Fox, a member of the team that drew 13-13 at Slaley Hall in Northumberland two years ago, added: “Momentum is such an important thing. Two years ago, we were way behind from the start, really, so hopefully we can take heart from seeing a lot of blue on the board this morning.”

Wright, who was also on the 2013 team, was equally delighted after he joined forces with Jason Levermore to beat Alan Morin and Grant Sturgeon 2&1 in the anchor match.

Also down early on, the GB&I pair birdied the fourth, seventh, eighth and tenth to set up their victory.

“It’s brilliant to help the team get off to such a good start,” said Wright, the West Linton head professional. “We stuck at it after they got off to the better start then played steady following a good run in the middle.

“It was tough out there due to the heat, but we’ve got a great team here and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Clark, whose dad, Iain, is Scottish, and Michael Watson put the first GB&I point on the board with a 3&2 win over Dobyns and Polland in the top match.

The visitors also had a chance to snatch a half point in the other match but Paul Hendriksen was unable to get up and down from just off the back edge at the last.

It resulted in him and Clarke going down to Omar Uresti, a two-times Nationwide Tour winner, and Sean Dougherty by one hole.

Fourballs (GB&I names first)

M Watson & C Clark bt M Dobyns & B Polland 3&2;

G Fox & D Dixon bt J Broce & B Sowards 2&1;

L Clark & P Hendriksen lost to O Uresti & S Dougherty 1 hole;

J Levermore & G Wright bt A Morin & G Sturgeon 3&2

GB&I 3 USA 1


G Fox & D Dixon lost to M Block & S Deane 4&3

J Levermore & G Wright halved with M Dobyns & B Polland

N Kearney & A Wrigley lost to O Uresti & S Dougherty 3&1

C Clark & L Clarke lost B Sowards & J Broce 8&7

Saturday’s fourball pairings

7.30am G Wright & J Levermore v M Block & S Deane

7.45am N Kearney & A Wrigley v M Dobyns & B Polland

8.00am G Fox & D Dixon v O Uresti & S Dougherty

8.15am M Watson & P Hendriksen v A Morin & G Sturgeon