Thrilling victory erases memories of excruciating defeat four years ago
ENGLAND held on to complete a narrow but thrilling 13-11 victory over France in the biennial international match at Fontainebleau, erasing the memory of the same scoreline in favour of the French at Chantilly four years ago.
After three sessions of intense rivalry, the teams were level at 8-8, so it all came down to the final day singles, where England secured a 5-3 victory to complete their 28th victory in the event.
“This was an excellent victory over a young French team,” said Nigel Edwards, England Golf’s Performance Director and the current Walker Cup captain. “Although we were tied at 8-8 going into the final series of singles I was confident because of the way the players performed the previous day but the foursomes results were not what we were looking for.
“However, our form in the singles was excellent and I’m looking forward to seeing more from these players in the lead up to selection for the European Team Championships.”
It was fortunate that the English players showed their true form in the singles as the French won both series of foursomes 2½-1½, a format England usually control as they did in the previous meeting at Rochester & Cobham two years ago.
England also took the opening series of singles 5-3 to lead 6½-5½ at the end of day one, but the French repeated the performance in the Sunday foursomes to draw level with everything to play for in the Sunday singles.
Ryan Evans gave England momentum by winning the top single 3&2 over UgoCoussaud, claiming five consecutive birdies from the fifth to take control.
Ashley Chesters, the reining European Amateur champion, did further damage to the French bid, racking up four birdies to defeat Paul Elissalde 4&3, while Paul Howard romped home 5&4 against Mathieu Decottignies-Lafon.
That meant that it was left to Jimmy Mullen, the Devon golfer who impressed in the Open Championship at the Muirfield last year, to see England home, and he duly obliged, winning 4&3 over Antoine Kuoch to wrap up the match.
Two birdies on the final three holes saw RomainLangasque secure a half against Jordan Smith while the French claimed their two victories through Leonardo Bem, 4&3 over Nick Marsh, and 3&1 by AugustinHolé against Toby Tree.
Never up in his game with Harry Casey, Thomas Le Berre secured a half with a birdie on the last hole.
Chesters was the pick of the England team, winning all four of his games, while Smith was also unbeaten with three wins and a half.
French coach Renaud Gray admitted afterwards that his side had been beaten by the better team.
“My players fought well,” he acknowledged. “But against some of the English players, Ryan Evans in particular, there wasn’t much they could do. England was a little stronger than us this afternoon.”
“We are obviously disappointed with the result. We had beleif that we could do it after this morning’s foursomes matches but this afternoon we were not offered a lot of points. You really had to go and get them.”