Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) will take a 7-5 lead into the final day of the St Andrews Trophy at Portmarnock Golf Club as they attempt to win back the biennial team title they lost to the Continent of Europe in Italy two years ago.
Conditions were testing all day at the famous north Dublin venue but Nigel Edwards’ side stuck to their task with his lower order showing real character in the afternoon singles.
It proved to be a difficult afternoon for two of GB&I’s leading players as Amateur champion Alan Dunbar and European Amateur champion Rhys Pugh both lost their singles.
Pugh, lost 3&2 to Manuel Trappel, the 2011 European Amateur champion, in the top match with the Welsh 18-year-old behind for the majority of the game against his Austrian opponent.
Dunbar was four down with four to play before a run of par, par, birdie was good enough to take his match to the 18th. However, the Rathmore golfer found trouble off the tee and eventually lost by two holes to Edouard Espana from France.
After the morning foursomes were halved 2-2, it was the bottom three matches that went in favour of GB&I, which proved to be the key difference between the sides. England’s Neil Raymond and Ben Taylor plus Ireland’s Kevin Phelan all recorded important wins. Phelan holed from 50 feet on 16 and got up and down at 17 and 18 to turn his match around and win by one hole against Germany’s Moritz Lampert.
"I’m really pleased to take a two-point lead into tomorrow for at one stage it didn’t look very good for us as we were only up in two matches,” said captain Edwards after the singles session.
"The boys were great at the end. The finish by Neil, Kevin and Ben was really strong. There’s a lot of fight in this team, they’re a great bunch of lads.”
The result was reversed in the Jacques Leglise Trophy as Gary Stangl’s Continent of Europe under-18 side won the afternoon singles (4.5-3.5) to secure their 7-5 lead overall.
The top match saw Irish Amateur champion Gavin Moynihan play out a halved match with Austria’s Matthias Schwab, who finished runner-up to Dunbar at this year’s Amateur Championship. Moynihan holed a most unlikely winning birdie pitch from the back of the 17thgreen before going on to share the spoils at the 18th.
However the following three matches went the Continent of Europe’s way with victories before Max Orrin, Ashton Turner and Matt Fitzpatrick answered for GB&I. France’s Romain Langasque’s one hole win over Patrick Kelly finalised the opening day scoreline.
"The result may be a little bit of a surprise but I’m proud of the way my team fought all the way, especially when you see the likes of Romain winning at the last. That really gives us a good push for tomorrow,” explained Stangl, who refuses to take anything for granted.
"There are still another 12 points to win. We know it’s tough to play a GB&I team here in Ireland and I know they have a lot of experience. I need to be careful not to predict anything.
"It was a great day for my team, I am very proud of them and hope we can continue tomorrow,” added Stangl hoping to win back the trophy GB&I won in Spain 12 months ago.
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