Gritty GB&I tied at 8-8 heading into PGA Cup singles

GRAHAM FOX admitted it had taken “grit and determination” to secure the half point that will take GB&I into the last-day singles in the 27th PGA Cup tied at 8-8 with the US at CordeValle.
Graham Fox, left, and David Dixon celebrate a holed putt on the second day in the 27th PGA Cup at CordeValle in California Picture: Getty ImagesGraham Fox, left, and David Dixon celebrate a holed putt on the second day in the 27th PGA Cup at CordeValle in California Picture: Getty Images
Graham Fox, left, and David Dixon celebrate a holed putt on the second day in the 27th PGA Cup at CordeValle in California Picture: Getty Images

On a baking-hot day in California, Jon Bevan’s side levelled the scores by winning the morning fourballs 2.5-1.5 before the afternoon foursomes were shared 2-2.

The splendid effort has given this GB&I side a great chance of becoming the first one to win on US soil as they head into the final ten head-to-head matches.

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Fox, the 2012 Scottish Professional champion, and David Dixon trailed Matt Dobyns and Ben Polland for 16 holes.

Dixon, a former European Tour winner, squared matters by rolling in a birdie putt at the 17th before the last was halved in par-5s after the Americans three-putted.

“We showed great and determination to win a brutally important point,” said Fox, who is attached to Clydeway Golf in Uddingston but found himself thinking about West Kilbride, where he played his amateur golf, over a crucial shot towards the end.

“After David hit a great drive at the 17th, I was left with just a 9-iron into the wind and pictured being at West Kilbride as I knuckled it down into the wind,” he added.

Gareth Wright, the other Tartan Tour player in the GB&I team, also earned a half point in the foursomes to take his tally for the event to three points out of four.

However, Wright and his partner, Jason Levermore, reckoned they’d let Bob Sowards and Jamie Broce off the hook after being three up with eight to play.

“It’s disappointing really, but it was a tough day out there in the heat,” admitted the West Linton professional. “Jason and I have played 72 holes over the last two days and we were maybe a bit tired towards the end.”

GB&I’s win in the afternoon session was delivered at the bottom of the order by Niall Kearney and Cameron Clark, who holed a 30-foot putt at the 17th to seal a 2&1 success over Sean Dougherty and Grant Sturgeon.

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Having played in the 2007 team that lost by a point at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia, Bevan is excited to see his players on the brink of history in the biennial event.

“We set out this morning trying to win today and I’m delighted that we did that as it means we are back in the game,” said the Rhos on Sea professional.

“We are in a position after two days whereby we have a chance and I’d give up my points (from two appearances) in a heartbeat for that win tomorrow.”

Earlier, Onion Creek pro Omar Uresti left GB&I in tears after a dramatic end to the morning session.

Uresti, a two-times Nationwide Tour winner, finished birdie-birdie-eagle to deny the visitors taking the lead as they enjoy the upper hand again in the fourballs.

Playing with Dougherty, the 47-year-old holed from 14 feet for his eagle at the last to earn a half against Fox and Dixon after the GB&I pair had been three up with three to play.

After laying up with his approach at the par-5, Fox had played a superb third, spinning it back to about two feet, but didn’t get the chance to make what would have been a match-winning putt.

“If that (pointing to his putter) had been working, it would have been game over by the 13th,” said a disappointed Fox.

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Trailing 4.5-3.5 overnight, GB&I levelled the scores when Wright and Levermore maintained their unbeaten record.

One down with eight to play, the GB&I pair made five birdies in six holes to win 3&2 and take their tally in the event to two-and-a-half points.

“We got off to a slow start then Jason caught fire in the middle,” said Wright after clinching the victory by holing from 12 feet for a birdie-2 at the 16th.

Levermore, a 36-year-old who is attached to Channels Golf Club in Essex, added: “Gareth and I dovetailed nicely and finish strong.”

The Englishman, who won the recent Lombard Trophy final at Gleneagles, has wielded his long putter to good effect in the first three sessions.

“It’s my old magic wand,” added Levermore, who has practised with counter-balanced putters ahead of the long ones being banned at the end of this year but is sticking with his trusty flat stick for the time being.

Michael Watson and Paul Hendriksen suffered a heavy defeat in the anchor match but Kearney and Alex Wrigley eked out a valuable win in the remaining clash.

Irishman Kearney, who played in the 2009 Walker Cup on this side of the Atlantic, conjured up a magical second shot - he had one foot in a bunker and the other out of it - at the 17th to take the GB&I duo to the last tee standing all square against Polland and Dobyns.

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The 27-year-old Dubliner then showed nerves of steel to roll in a four-footer for a match-winning birdie at the last.

“Alex carried me for the first ten holes but then I managed to find something over the last few holes,” said Kearney, who had also holed a good birdie putt at the 16th.

“I was nervous over the putt at the last but did exactly what my caddie told me - aiming inside left and banging it into the hole.”

Wright, a last-day winner at Slaley Hall two years ago when it ended 13-13, will lead GB&I out on this occasion against Malcolm Block while Fox is up against 25-year-old Polland in the third match.

Second-day results

Fourballs (US names first)

M Block & S Deane lost to G Wright & J Levermore 3&2

M Dobyns & B Polland lost to N Kearney & A Wrigley one hole

O Uresti & S Dougherty halved with G Fox & D Dixon

A Morin & G Sturgeon bt M Watson & P Hendriksen 4&2


B Sowards & J Broce halved with G Wright & J Levermore

M Block & S Deane nt L Clarke & A Wrigley 2&1

N Dobyns & B Polland halved with G Fox & D Dixon

S Dougherty G Sturgeon lost to C Clark & N Kearney 2&1

Match position USA 8 GB&I 8