Gareth Wright almost helped Great Britain & Ireland pull off a “Medinah-esque” win on his debut in the PGA Cup, the club pros’ equivalent of the Ryder Cup.
Now the Capital-based player is aiming to use that encouraging effort to become a history-maker in the event this weekend as part of a first visiting team to win on US soil.
The event gets underway tomorrow at CordeValle in California, where Wright is flying the flag for the Tartan Tour along with Graham Fox, one of captain Jon Bevan’s picks.
Both were also in the GB&I team at Slaley Hall two years ago when the hosts won the last-day singles 7.5-2.5 to earn a 13-13 draw.
“What happened at Slaley Hall two years ago was very Medinah-esque,” said Wright, referring to Europe coming from 10-6 down on the last day to win the 2012 Ryder Cup in Chicago.
“Unfortunately, we just fell that half a point short, but that inspires you to try a bit harder to bring the trophy home.
“That won’t be easy because I believe that no GB&I team has won over in the States, but we’ll be giving it our best shot.”
Wright took over the reins at West Linton from his step-dad, Ian, earlier this year, and will be representing his home club with bags of pride in the three-day event that starts tomorrow.
“The club has always backed me and the members have always shown an interest in where I’m playing,” said the 33-year-old, who has been accompanied on this trip by his wife, Sarah. “Now it’s a great honour to be going out to the PGA Cup as the head pro.”
Wright, the 2014 Scottish PGA champion and runner-up on this season’s Tartan Tour Order of Merit, picked two-and-a-half points out of five two years ago.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the match again,” he said. “It was one of my goals from last year, when I didn’t play in the Club Pros due to other commitments then failed to make the Play-Offs.
“That left me needing a good finish in this year’s Club Pros but I was delighted about the way I handled that pressure situation to get into the PGA Cup team by finishing second.
“Any time you represent GB&I is a massive honour. It brings an added pressure, of course, and in golf it is normally you out there on your own rather than competing for your team-mates.
“But I love the camaraderie of being in a team and it was great when we had a get-together at The Belfry earlier in the year. We didn’t do that two years ago and it was a good exercise. We played a few different formats and, all in all, it was good fun.
“When I was an amateur, I played the Jones Cup over in the States while the Welsh team also went over there to compete for the Eisenhower Trophy.
“However, I generally go out there once or twice a year for warm weather practice so I’m familiar with the courses.
“I also spent three months out there with Sandy Lyle at his house at TPC Sawgrass when I had just finished school.
“Ian coached him for a few years, he’s a family friend and he invited me out there, which was great.
“The style of courses in the US suits my game and Jon Bevan has told us it’s an undulating course with some long walks between holes.
“I believe it’s quite firm rather than being a target-type course so that will hopefully suit us.”
It may be coming towards the end of the competition season for the West Linton members but Wright has more big events to come after this one.
“I’m in the Titleist Play-Offs so will be playing through to just about the end of the year,” he revealed. “I will hopefully do well in that to qualify for some of the big European Tour events – the PGA Championship at Wentworth etc – next year.
“I’ve also got European Team Championship, out in Turkey as well, after that. It will be myself in Graham again in that and one other.”