05 May 17
(L to R) Vice Captain Martyn Thompson, Captain Albert MacKenzie, Greig Hutcheon, Rob Coles, Matt Cort, and Vice Captain Cameron Clark on the first tee of the Longcross Course at Foxhills.
PGA Cup captain Albert MacKenzie has revealed he urged the manager at Saunton to host last autumn’s PGA Play-Offs because it would help his preparations for this year’s match against the USA.
MacKenzie is the head PGA pro at Saunton, the club in north Devon that stepped in to host the Play-Offs at short notice after they were moved from Turkey because of political unrest.
And with the top three finishers in the Play-Offs earning automatic selection for his PGA Cup team, MacKenzie knew the event would give him the chance to watch them play in challenging circumstances.
“I had already been appointed PGA Cup captain when Saunton was asked to host the Play-Offs,” MacKenzie explained.
“So I asked the general manager to clear some space in the diary so we could host them. The reason being I knew Saunton would throw up some great players over four rounds.”
In the event, the top four players had all won their respective regional Order of Merits and the first three – Matt Cort, Rob Coles and Greig Hutcheon - booked their places in the Great Britain and Ireland team to face the USA at Foxhills.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Matt, Rob and Greig have secured the first three places – they are excellent players,” MacKenzie added. “They will be very pivotal to our success come the match in September.”
The trio were reunited during a familiarisation day at Foxhills earlier this month when, along with MacKenzie and his two vice captains Cameron Clark and Martyn Thompson, they tackled the Longcross course at the Surrey resort.
Coles, Cort and Hutcheon will be joined in the Great Britain and Ireland team by seven other players, six of whom will be determined by the outcome of the PGA Professional Championship that will be contested at Luttrellstown Castle, Ireland, next month.
MacKenzie, with advice from Clark and Thompson, will select the final member of the line-up. The deliberations, however, are already in full swing.
“We have a short list of names already,” MacKenzie said. “A lot will depend on what happens in Ireland. I’m keeping a close look at all the regional events and making a note of players who are doing well. We’re doing all we can to come up with that right name after the Championship over in Dublin.”
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