‘We’re ready for a battle’
Albert Mackenzie will captain GB&I at the PGA Cup on September 15-17
‘‘We laid down a marker in 2015, but we know the Americans will be a formidable force’’
The Ryder Cup may be 13 months away, but you don’t have to look to the Presidents Cup for some team drama in the meantime. Closer to home, the PGA Cup will take place at Foxhills in Surrey next month, where Great Britain & Ireland will be trying to retain the trophy they won when they inflicted a first home defeat on the USA in 2015. Albert Mackenzie, head PGA pro at Saunton, was part of the backroom team then, and has now been entrusted with captaining the side this time around. Who better, then, to give us the lowdown on golf’s biggest event for club pros...
Q. How does the PGA Cup work? It’s very similar to the Ryder Cup; the first two days we play fourballs and foursomes and then we have singles on the Sunday. The only difference is that the PGA Cup is a team of 10, so at least two players must play all five matches.
Q. What’s the pedigree like in the GB&I team?
We are really strong with a wealth of experience. Most of our players have played on the European Tour and have won events at the highest level. Before the team was finalised, shortly after our PGA Championship, we had a shortlist of 24 names. All 10 players were on that list.
Q. How special was it beating America in their own backyard in 2015?
It’s been the highlight of my golf career to date. It was just the most rewarding week, especially as it had never been done before. There wasn’t a cross word said all week and I think that unity galvanised the team. That’s why I insisted on bringing in Martyn Thompson from Parkstone and Cameron Clark from Moor Hall as my vice captains. Cameron played in the match at Cordevalle and Martyn and I were the two vice-captains. We’ve all had a flavour of victory and we know the attention to detail required to come out on top.
Q. What do the history books say?
This year will be the 28th match in the history of the PGA Cup, and the scoreline reads America 17, and GB&I six with four matches halved. We laid down a marker in 2015, but we know the Americans will be a formidable force. They start out with 4,000 players in the regionals and then whittle it down to the 10 best players. As an illustration of how strong they are, the top 20 in the American PGA Professional Championship will be playing at Quail Hollow in the US PGA. They’ll be battle hardened, that’s for sure, but we’re ready for a battle.
Q. Could home advantage give you the edge?
Most certainly. We chose the Longcross course at Foxhills because it’s very British in its nature. It’s not a bomber’s course; the greens offer many challenges and, as a result, you need to hit it on the prepared surface from the tee. I don’t think the Americans will have played on too many courses with the same, restricted feel. It helps that we’ll be playing in front of a home crowd, and we know from the Ryder Cup how favourable that can be.
Q. What would it mean on a personal level to retain the trophy?
Retaining the trophy will feel as if we have positioned our two flags on the highest summit. This is my personal Everest, but we will all climb together and help each other along the way. If we prepare diligently and believe in our ability, we will succeed. I have every belief that we can repeat what we did at Cordevalle.