Higgins and McGrane get to underway at the PGA Cup

Bernie McGuire
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With the GB&I team targeting back-to-back successes, PGA in Ireland stalwarts, Damien McGrane and David Higgins (Waterville Links), are gearing up to face their American counterparts in the 28th PGA Cup today wit the event running until Sunday.

This year Foxhills Resort in Surrey is the setting as captain Albert MacKenzie’s side go in search of back-to-back wins in the Ryder Cup style competition for the first time since 1984.

Higgins, who is making his debut in the event, is relishing the opportunity to represent his country and is backing his team-mates to rise to the occasion and win at home for the first time since the K Club in 2005.

“It would be wonderful if we could win and we’ll be doing everything we can to do just that,” said David.

“We’ve got a lot of experience and I’m sure those guys (the Americans) will be very experienced players but all we can do is try to play to the best of our ability. We have to do our job and that’s all we can do, we can’t be focusing on the past, we must only focus on what we are doing.”

“Getting used to the situation we’re in is something we’ll have to adjust to because there is pressure playing for your country. We need to get used to that, wearing the team uniform and stuff like that. That will be the biggest thing and whoever gets used to that will probably perform the best.”

“Getting onto the team was a great honour and a great achievement, but it wasn’t until I went over to the warm-up at Foxhills that the juices started flowing and that feeling starts to run through your veins that you’re representing your country. I haven’t done that in over 20 years.”

McGrane, meanwhile, is one of only two players in the GB&I team set to make a second PGA Cup appearance and this time revenge is on the menu.

The Kells man was part of David Llewellyn’s team that lost to the Americans by one point at Celtic Manor in Wales back in 2000. Damien won two of his four matches as the hosts lost 13½ – 12½ on the final day, and he admits the narrow defeat was hard to accept.

“It was a great win for them but for us it was very disappointing because it was so achievable at that time,” said McGrane.

“It was disappointing because half-way through the final day I remember it being very evenly matched and needless to say our side didn’t produce enough to win the match.I found it to be tough, very competitive and all of the matches were played in the right spirit.”

“It was my first time so obviously the thrill of the whole week was fantastic and David Llewellyn was a super captain and Celtic Manor was a fantastic venue, so I have very fond memories of playing in my first PGA Cup.”

“I hope I can be part of a winning team this time around, none of us are going there to finish second and we’d love to do it. The team spirit is good which is very important and Foxhills is a beautiful venue.”

“We certainly have all of the factors that will be needed to win the matches, but on the day it’s a different matter. This year there will be no stone left unturned.”

Damien is also hoping that he will be part of an all-Irish pairing at some stage during the week.

“I played on the Irish amateur team with David Higgins many years ago and David and I are very competitive in the Irish region, we’ve had many head-to-heads in Ireland,” he added.

“David is playing well and I am playing reasonably well and I think, if we get the chance to play together, we will be a very strong combination.

“I know David very well, he’s a super player and if there was an opportunity to partner with him I would cherish that.”

*Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin) grabbed the vital winning point in 2015 to earn a first ever win for GB&I on American soil.

2017 Great Britain & Ireland PGA Cup team:
Phillip Archer (Birchwood Golf Club)
Rob Coles (Maylands Golf & Country Club)
Matthew Cort (Beedles Lake Golf Club)
Christopher Currie (Caldwell Golf Club)
David Higgins (Waterville Golf Links)
Garry Houston (Carden Park Golf)
Greig Hutcheon (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre)
Christopher McDonnell (Golf at Goodwood)
Damien McGrane
Andrew Raitt (St George’s Hill Golf Club)

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