Europe Play With Panache To Win Phoenix Cup 2018
Long Marsh Golf Club, Florida, USA October 15th—17th
The Phoenix Cup 2108 is a “RYDER CUP” style competition played between disabled golfers from the USA & Europe. It was played over 3 days the format being 6 x foursomes on day 1, 6 x 4 ball better ball on day 2 and finally on day 3, 12 x singles. This event was the idea of Mr Jim Gales MBE of the Scottish Disability Golf & Curling (SDGC) and Mr Ian Halliwell, Chairman of British Inclusive Golf (BIG).
Team Europe win Disabled Ryder Cup following a hurricane scare and despite tragically losing one of there team the day before event….
Each team for Inclusivity had to field players with a variety of disabilities and show case all golf handicaps by having 4 players with handicaps in each range 0 –10, 11-20 & 21 plus. This proved successful as 80% of the games went to the 17th & 18th Hole.
The inaugural Phoenix Cup was a great success and was enjoyed by all participant’s, however the financial support for the USA team was evident to see. Team Europe’s aptly named “Dads Army” all made the trip at their own cost. However, tragedy struck the Europe team the day before event.
Sadly, Mr Billy Cairns from Kilmarnock suddenly had a heart-attack in his hotel room and passed away. This sad event devastated the team, it was unanimous that we would continue and win it for Billy #doitforbilly. Billy was a very cheerful funny guy and brought a smile to most faces at any event he attended he will be sadly missed and both SDGC & BIG are planning to have an award in his memory in the future.
The Match – Captains Diary
Thurs 11th OCTOBER… arrive in hotel…. terrible journey from Orlando and our team already have issues…. Celtic contingent, transfer issues at Tampa…our German player delayed by the hurricane in Atlanta, not exactly the start I had hoped for…all the past Ryder cup players had stressed the overriding importance of team spirit and camaraderie, hardly an auspicious start.
Friday 12th October… optional practice day…. again not a great start, missed lifts, changing tee times, team all over the place, but all this paled into insignificance as we heard the devastating, tragic news that our popular charismatic colleague Billy Cairns had sadly passed away whilst chilling at the hotel.
That evening many a tear was shed but equally many a humorous anecdote about our fallen hero. It was this evening that this rambling, rag tag dads army collection of guys became a team…. #doingitforbilly… even then more hassle the boss Jim Gales arrives minus clubs.
Saturday 13th October… Florida open day, surprisingly all the team elect to play but its clear golf is the last thing on everybody’s mind…only 3 of the side break par, but as the news about billy has broke back in UK we are overwhelmed with the out pouring of support and encouragement, particularly from Billy’s family.
Sunday 14th October… meet the teams and draw for foursomes. If we were in any doubt about the challenge ahead, we soon realised it as our USA opposition turned out superbly attired, well kitted out and clearly a very young and extremely talented bunch of golfers…but we had billy looking down on us and that night our Team again joined together as billy’s team and we were clearly ready to rumble…. The team, wife’s and supporters clearly up for the battle ahead.
Monday 15th October… opening ceremony and foursomes…. sounds of bagpipes, a moving ceremony and fitting tribute to billy started this Ryder cup styled match.
First tee following opening ceremony and there’s a minute silence for billy… I was really emotional and chocked up but mighty proud of my opening shot cracked down the middle. Personally, I still don’t know how I hit the first opening tee shot but it set the tone for a magnificent effort by all the Team Europe players…the strains of ‘Ole Ole Ole, billy, billy’ strained round the course as we took the session 5 points to 1…. we where #doingitforbilly.
Opening Ceremony – Pipers Billy Cairns
Tuesday 16th October… we expected a backlash and got it, in the fourballs, we where beaten 5 to 1, levelling the tie 6 each….. not that we played badly 3 games went to last and we could have had a lead going into last day. There was some good news , the boss clubs and case turned up and Mr Gales at last had some clean clothes and more importantly body spray. That night the whole team met and partied just for billy and despite our huge underdog status, I personally at last felt quite confident of success, indeed I felt it was inevitable we would #doitforbilly.
Wednesday 17th October… the final 12 singles… two players notify us they aren’t feeling up for it… it had been 42 degrees each day on a long dry course and it was beginning to take its toll on our Dads Army. This honesty was to play a big part in our teams success on the day along with some inspirational Team Placings by the gaffer Jim Gales… To the strains of ‘ole ole’ ALL the guys played out their skins…. it was even hotter today, but not as hot as our golf out on the course and the rest is history Team Europe 7.5 Team USA 4.5…. and the Phoenix Cup is coming back to Europe… we had #doneitforbilly.
Mike Jones – Team Europe
I was delighted and proud to lead this magnificent collection of gentlemen…. we will be comrades in arms forevermore. The Cairns family, your support and encouragement in your darkest hour was a significant contribution. Billy Cairns RIP, team mate, friend, gone but will never EVER be forgotten.
FROM DEVESTATION AND DESPAIR TO ELATION AND JOY…
A great meal and celebration followed, our hosts maintain dignity despite their defeat and there were so many friendships made…
Ian Halliwell – Receiving ‘The Phoenix Cup’ from USA Captain Tracy Ramin
Team Europe fought and played hard against a much younger USA team, every team member playing their part in the victory, some even forfeiting their place in the singles for the better of the team.
The winning putt was sunk by our oldest team member Jim Thompson, however it was sadly missed by most, as we were watching the captain close out his match, we all thought this was the match that would win it for EUROPE.
However, without the camaraderie and losing Billy I doubt the result would have been the same, each player digging into inner strength to ‘DO IT FOR BILLY’. The whole team are so proud to have won for our lost comrade.
New friends were made across the pond and sure that people will be making many trips both ways to compete in each other competitions in the future.
Jim Gales MBE & Ian Halliwell
The Europe Team paying tribute to Billy and his beloved Rangers
Jim Gales, Kevin Booth, Mike Jones, Trevor Hillen, Gareth McNeilly, Frank Sorber, Iain Ross, Gerry Clifford, Derek Milne, John Riordan, John Irvine, Jim Thomson, Brettan Munoz…. I salute you all… Dads Army Dream Team….Morag, Beth, Victoria and Elisabeth, thanks for your support at this difficult time.
Norman and Dean and our sponsor John, again thanks for everything and my friend Charles M Brugh.
Europe beat USA against all odds
Day 1 Foursomes
Booth & Halliwell bt Aldrich & Shipelski 7 & 6
Irvine & McNeily bt Clay & Holland 3 & 2
Hilleen & Ross bt Bizer & Fairclough 2up
Riordan & Thomson lst Miller & Hooks 2 dwn
Jones & Sorber bt Canezi & Ramin 4 & 3 4 & 3
Clifford & Milne bt Snyder & Bell 2up
Europe 5 USA 1
Day 2 Fourballs
Booth & Halliwell bt Bizer & Ford 3 & 1
Hilleen & Milne lst Snyder & Hooper 2 down
Riordan & Ross lst Aldrich & Hooks 1 down
Clifford & Thomson lst Clay & Holland 3 & 2
Jones & Sorber lst Bell & Shipelski 1 down
Irvine & McNeily lst Ramin & Rojas 1 down
EUROPE 1 USA 5
Match score Europe 6. USA 6
Day 3 SINGLES
Booth bt Bell 2 & 1
Gales lst Hooper 5 & 4
Irvine halve Shipelski
Jones bt Hooks 1up
Munoz lst Canezi 6 & 5
Ross lst Bizer 2 & 1
Riordan lst Ford 1 down
Sorber bt Clay 5 & 4
McNeily bt. Fairclough 3 & 2
Thomson bt Miller 2 up
Halliwell bt Holland 3 & 2
Milne bt Snyder 8 & 7
Europe 7.5 USA 4.5
Europe 13.5 USA 10.5 – Europe Win
This competition is NOT ABOUT ELITE GOLFERS it’s about “INCLUSIVITY” and getting more disabled people playing golf at the highest level they can achieve.
The competition, the format was a total success however if this event is to grow we need more financial support to get younger people involved in the future. This competition is NOT ABOUT ELITE GOLFERS it’s about “INCLUSIVITY” and getting more disabled people playing golf at the highest level they can achieve.