Tough opposition overcome as British and Irish golfers claim spoils in Sweden
GREAT BRITAIN and Ireland had double cause for celebration after winning both the St Andrews and Jacques Leglise trophies at Barsebäck in Sweden. With golf on the Continent fast improving, these wins give a boost to young GB&I players.
The GB&I men’s team defeated their counterparts from the Continent of Europe 14-10 to win the biennial St Andrews Trophy for the first time since 2008, while the under-18 GB&I team edged-out a close match 12½-11½ to retain the Jacques Leglise Trophy they won at Royal St David’s in Wales last year.
The St Andrews Trophy win gives captain Nigel Edwards a major boost ahead of next year’s Walker Cup match at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
Trailing 10-6 going into the afternoon singles, the Continent of Europe knew they had to produce something special to defend the trophy and they got off to the ideal start when Portugal’s Joao Carlota won the opening game 2&1 against the previously unbeaten Ashley Chesters.
They led in several matches for much of the afternoon but Ireland’s Paul Dunne settled the nerves with a 4&3 win over Mathias Eggenberger from Switzerland. Amateur champion Bradley Neil and Irishman Gary Hurley were able to produce late flourishes to win their games against Slovenia’s Tim Gornik and Daniel Berna from Spain to seal a memorable victory for GB&I.
In the morning foursomes, Chesters and Ryan Evans won 3&1 against Carlota and Berna. Dunne and Hurley swept to an emphatic 5&4 win over Dutchman Darius van Drill and Finn Albert Eckhardt. Neil and Grant Forrest eagled the par-5 16th on their way to winning another point for GB&I, and Graeme Robertson and Nick Marsh won with a par on the 18th to make it four out of four.
Edwards, who is also the England Golf performance director, was pleased with how his players coped under pressure.
“It was great to get a win,” he said. “They came at us strongly in the afternoon but I have a lot of faith in our players. They performed very well and deserved their victory.”
The Jacques Leglise Trophy match was keenly poised after the morning foursomes. England’s Marco Penge and Ashton Turner led the way with a 4&3 win over Dutchman Vince van Veen and Spain’s Klaus Ganter. Wins for GB&I captain Ewen Ferguson and Bradley Moore, and Rowan Lester and George Burns, gave the side momentum and, when the top match finished all-square, GB&I took a slender one-point lead going into the afternoon singles.
Swedes Marcus Kinhult and Oskar Bergqvist overturned the deficit with early wins against Haydn McCullen and Tim Harry, respectively but Ferguson restored parity with his 2&1 win against Adam Blomme.
GB&I moved ahead with wins from George Burns and Bradley Moore, but Italy’s Stefano Mazzoli pipped Marco Penge to keep the Continent of Europe within a point of GB&I. Spain’s Klaus Ganter brought them another point but Lester dashed hopes of a comeback with a 2&1 win over the Czech Republic’s Vitek Novak to seal a 12½-11½ win for GB&I.
Peter McEvoy, the Jacques Leglise team manager for GB&I, said he was pleased to see his team step up and deliver.
“We are really delighted to win,” said McEvoy. “It is becoming an increasingly difficult task to beat the Continent of Europe team. The standard of golf being played at the boys’ level these days is extremely high.”`