‘We’re ready for a bat­tle’

Al­bert Macken­zie will cap­tain GB&I at the PGA Cup on Septem­ber 15-17

Today's Golfer (UK) - - First Tee -

‘‘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.

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