PGA Cup hero Greig Hutcheon in the groove at Renaissance

Poor Paul Levy. Twenty-four hours after becoming the '¨US captain to suffer the '¨heaviest PGA Cup defeat in more than 30 years, he found himself being haunted at The Renaissance Club at the start of a flying visit.

Greig Hutcheon is one off the lead at the P&H Championship after an opening 67. Picture: Getty.
Greig Hutcheon is one off the lead at the P&H Championship after an opening 67. Picture: Getty.

His arrival on holiday, after all, coincided with two of the players who inflicted that pain at Foxhills in Surrey 24 hours earlier competing in the opening round of the P&H Championship, one of the majors on the Tartan Tour, at the East Lothian venue.

Chris Currie’s fightback at the weekend from three down at the turn for a half in the concluding singles session retained the Llandudno Trophy for Great Britain & Ireland, before Greig Hutcheon secured victory for Albert MacKenzie’s side with another half point.

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After joining their team-mates for a deserved celebration on Sunday night, the pair both jumped on a 7am flight from Heathrow yesterday to make it up to Edinburgh in time for the start of their campaigns in the 54-hole event.

“I feel as though I’ve just woken up,” said Currie, smiling, before his early afternoon tee time in the company of Gavin Hay, one of the circuit’s top performers this season, and Sam Binning, “but I couldn’t really miss this event as it’s the bread and butter.”

Currie, a 35-year-old who is attached to Caldwell, marked his PGA Cup debut by picking up three and a half points from five matches as GB&I followed up a first win on US soil in California in 2015 by making it back-to-back victories for the first time since 1984.“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “The captain and the vice captains were fantastic. They left no stone unturned. It will be tough to top this. For PGA pros, this is the highlight. But I’m still relatively new to this 
and I just feel like I’m getting started.”

Indeed, Currie had a spade in his hands for a few years at the same time as some of his team-mates from last week were playing on the European Tour. “I worked for the council for four years, gardening and greenkeeping with West Dunbartonshire. I might need to fall back on that one day,” he said, laughing.

“There’s a lot golf ahead of me and I’m getting better as a I go along. I’m hoping to get to the European Tour qualifying school next year. I was speaking to a couple of people down at the PGA Cup that were keen to give me some backing.”

In the circumstances, Currie had good reason to be pleased with yesterday’s one-over 72, especially after being brought down to earth as his opening drive found a nasty spot in the face of a bunker, while Hutcheon had even more cause to be a happy chappy.

“I was running on fumes at the end,” said the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre Inchmarlo player after signing for a four-under-par 67, which was matched by one of his playing partners, Cameron Marr, as the pair ended the day a shot off the lead, held by Paul O’Hara.

Hutcheon admitted a second taste of the PGA Cup had eclipsed his many feats in the game. “It was unbelievable,” said the Banchory man. “I’ve been struggling this season, but it was a great experience. This will be the best achievement of my career. After I’d made the up and down and holed the putt that finished it, I still had the 18th to play. Albert was gone, he was welling up and I was almost the same. It’s quite hard hitting a drive when your eyes are full of water.”

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O’Hara, who would have been on the team if it hadn’t been for a pre-arranged holiday, made an ominous start in the defence of a title he claimed in a play-off at the same venue last year. The Motherwell man signed for five birdies yesterday in a blemish-free effort, having already claimed both the Northern Open and the British Club Pros Championship among nine victories in total this season.

“I played pretty steady, but you won’t get it any easier than we did out there today, especially after the wind died completely on the back nine” he said. Others to take advantage of the benign conditions included Hay, Gareth Wright and 51-year-old Stewart 
Savage as they all carded 68s.