First played in 1973 at the legendary Pinehurst No.2 Course, America chalked up a 13-3 victory which set the tone for the next three encounters where they won comfortably.
GB&I’s first significant impact on the matches came in 1977 during one of the best duels in PGA Cup history which was fought across Mission Hills in California.
Jack Hargreaves’ GB&I team (pictured above), trailing by three points going into the final day, battled back to triumph 6-3 in the singles to force a draw – the first time since 1927 that a visiting Ryder Cup or PGA Cup team didn’t go home a loser. The following year, on the back of their heroics on US soil, GB&I finally notched up its first win – a fine 10½-6½ victory at St Mellion.
That wasn’t all. Twelve months later at a windswept Castletown, the second-day fourballs were the turning point, the home side winning three and halving one, and going on to extend the winning margin (12½-4½) by taking six of the nine singles. David Huish and Peter Butler were undefeated in their three outings.
Huish (pictured below right in 1980 with Terry Florence) made eight PGA Cup appearances and was to become caption of the PGA Cup team in 1988, but not before he set a record of 18 victories that still stands today.
The story couldn’t have been made radically different the following year, 1980, at the Oak Tree club in Edmond, Oklahoma. No doubt confident after back-to-back wins, the visitors hit the ground with a thump, suffering one of their heftiest defeats in the series. They went down 15-6 in the new format that still exists today – foursomes and fourballs on the first two days with every team members playing singles on the third and final day.
The GB&I team returning a year later, this time to Turnberry Isle in Florida must have travelled with some trepidation. But over the three days in October 1981, they turned in a battling performance, probably the best on American soil in the 40-year series.
Going into the final day losing 7½-4½ the visitor were ably led off, first by PGA Club Professional champion Mike Steadman and then by his pairs partner, the quiet-spoken Cornishman John Yeo (below), who later captained The PGA. Unbeaten in their three pairs matches, both saw off formidable US opposition.
Steadman trouncing the 1980 American Club Pro’ champion John Traub 7&6, and Yeo defeating Jim Albus by 5&3. As welcome back-up John Morgan, Peter Butler, David Jones and David Ridley were also singles winners, forcing an improbable tie at 10½ points each.
The Americans returned to winning ways the next year in Tennessee, with Albus the top man in Holston Hills, winning all three matches.
In this topsy-turvy series of contests, no-one should have been surprised that the next two matches (1983 and 1984), both in Scotland, at Muirfield and Turnberry, were comfortable wins for the home team. But if those two strong performances had garnered expectations of further success, the Americans quickly dispelled that notion and it was to be 21 more years before a Great Britain & Ireland team managed to regain the trophy.
At Knollwood Country Club, Illinois in 1986 (US team above) – with a heavy defeat already inflicted, it had to be said – American Charlie Epps won himself immense credit when he conceded Scot Willie Milne an eight-foot putt on the final green for a halved match.
Strangely, 1988 at The Belfry was the States’ first away victory for 12 years – but how handsomely they achieved it, totalling 15½ points to the home sides 10½. British tails were firmly between their legs in 1990 after the one-sided affair at Turtle Point, South Carolina, just up the road from where the Ryder Cup ‘War on the Shore’ would unfold almost exactly a year later.
Bruce Fleisher (above) wrote his name all over the contest, notching a 4-0 personal tally in a series- record victory of 19-7. Highlight of the 1992 contest at The K Club was an amazing three successive eagles on the 529-yard 18th – all, of course, for victory for Floridian Brett Upper.
Two years later, at the PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, the visitors held the Americans until lunch on the second day. Even as the singles progressed, it was at one stage just 12-11 in the home side’s favour, but three late wins produced a comfortable 15-11 US victory.
Much has been written about the crucially close match over the Monarch’s course at Gleneagles in 1996, where, if the truth be told the Americans were let off the hook.
Amazingly every session was halved and with GB&I a point ahead, all depended on the final singles match between Anglo-Scot Bill Longmuir (above) and Jeff Roth. Bill faced the dreaded task – as they say, ‘all he needed was a half’ and he was two up with four to play. No guesses – he bogeyed all four, the 38-year old from Michigan parred them and the trophy was torn from GB&I’s grasp.
Two years later at the splendid Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, the US dominated the foursomes, winning seven and a half points en-route to a comfortable victory.
Millennium year at Celtic Manor inspired GB&I to a stronger performance with the home side dominating singles (6-4) for the first time since 1984. But America’s three-point lead after the opening two days proved decisive with Californian Jeff Freeman pocketing the winning point in pelting rain when he two-putted from 40 feet on the 17th for victory over Irishman John Dwyer.
‘Awesome’ was the word being bandied about three years later when GB&I tackled America at the PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, Florida. Once again thought it was used in conjunction with the US who overwhelmed the visitors, storming to a 15-1 lead after two days before wrapping up a 19-7 victory.
In 2005 however, more than two decades of frustration were brought to a close by a GB&I team captained by former PGA Captain Jim Farmer (above). After some brilliant golf on the first two days to establish a 12½-3½ advantage, GB&I wrapped up a 15-11 win despite a valiant fightback in the singles by America. Special mention goes to Darren Parris who won all five of his matches (far right).
Georgia’s magnificent Reynolds Plantation and Oconee course was the setting for the 23rd matches in 2007 where the US regained the trophy by a 13½-12½ margin. Ryan Benzel fought back from three-down with three to play against Paul Wesselingh to snatch the decisive point against Gary Alliss’ team.
The Carrick on Loch Lomond was the stunning setting for the 24th matches and with GB&I undefeated in three previous clashes in Scotland, the hosts were hoping for another strong showing to regain the Llandudno International Trophy but the US dashed those hopes with a comprehensive 17½ - 8½ victory.
America made it a hat-trick of wins in California in 2011 when at CordeValle Russell Weir's GB&I team were outgunned by the same score.
Two years later at Slaley Hall the US retained the Llandudno Trophy but only just as Weir returned to lead his side to a stunning Sunday singles fightback.
The US seemed destined for a comfortable win as they went into the singles with a five point lead and needing ‘just’ two and half points to retain the cup and three to win.
But GB&I swept the singles 7.5-2.5 to tie 13-13 and leave Northumberland with heads held high.
In 2015 Jon Bevan led GB&I (above) to an historic first win on US soil at CordeValle in a nail-biting finale at the Californian resort.
Ireland's Niall Kearney held his nerve to sink a seven foot putt on the last to clinch a memorable victory and insure Bevan's team went down in the PGA Cup annals as history makers.
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