Great Britain & Ireland fought back on day two of the PGA Cup after David (DJ) Russell’s side closed the gap on the United States at Foxhills Club & Resort.
Heading into day two three points behind their rivals, GB&I showed character and grit to keep their hopes of winning back the Llandudno International Trophy alive and they head to the Sunday singles matches trailing 9.5 to 6.5.
Simon Lilly and Paul McKechnie were out first for GB&I on a bitterly cold September morning, but they faced a stern challenge in the face of Michael Block and Larkin Gross, a partnership that picked up two points for the Americans on day one.
Block and Gross picked up where they left off and raced into a three-shot lead through six holes. A birdie at the 7th and 10th by Lilly gave the GB&I duo hope as they twice reduced the deficit to two, but the Americans ran away with the win on the back nine to extend their lead to four points.
Russell needed a reaction and he got one in match two. Adam Keogh tasted victory in his one match on Friday and he carried that form into day two alongside James Ruth.
The GB&I pairing went two-up thanks to a birdie by Ruth at the par 3 4th and they moved up the gears on the back nine against Americans Ben Polland and Alex beach. Just like Friday, Keogh won the match with a birdie, this time on the par 5 14th to reduce the overall deficit to three points.
Birthday boy Matthew Cort and Simon Thornton were next out for GB&I as they took on Jared Jones and Wyatt Worthington II. Cort showed the type of form that saw him finish as the top GB&I points scorer in this competition back in 2019.
The Beedles Lake professional birdied the second and fifth, while Ireland’s Thornton holed back-to-back birdies at nine and 10 to put the home side three-up with eight to play. A birdie at the 12th got America back to within two but a bogey at the par 3 16th by Wyatt handed GB&I their second win of the day.
The final fourball contest proved to be one of the matches of the tournament so far. Daniel Whitby-Smith and Ashley Mansell went toe-to-toe with Jesse Mueller and Frank Bensel Jr in a battle that went down to the wire. Whitby-Smith hit his third shot out of bounds, leaving Mansell under pressure to make par, he held his nerve to earn half a point and leave the scoreline 7-5 heading into the Saturday foursomes.
“It was an exciting game,” said Mansell. “I started off with an early birdie which was nice to get us one ahead after the first hole. Then it was just a bit nip and tuck all the way from then onwards.
“We managed to get two up through 11 holes which was nice from holing a 50ft putt with my putter which was just incredible and they just fired a couple of birdies back at us and it was close going in.”
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