The Jacques Leglise Trophy makes its way to the Kent coast and the historic links of Prince’s Golf Club this week with the Great Britain and Ireland team bidding to retain the trophy for the fourth match in a row.
The under-18 match between GB&I and the Continent of Europe joins a long line of prestigious events to have taken place at Prince’s, including The Open and The Amateur Championship.
The GB&I team, managed by Peter McEvoy OBE, will set out to maintain their recent form in the match after last year’s contest at Royal Dornoch finished 12 ½ - 12 ½. GB&I won a close contest by 12½ - 11½ at Barsebäck in Sweden in 2014 and achieved a 15-9 victory at Royal St David's in Wales in 2013.
England international Marco Penge returns as captain of the team and is joined from the 2015 team by Thomas Mulligan, who was runner-up to Mark Power in the Irish Boys’ Championship in June. It was Power’s second win of the season after he claimed the Peter McEvoy Trophy in April. The third Irishman in the team is Kevin LeBlanc, who won the Junior Open in 2014.
Among the others in the five-strong English contingent who will be looking to make their mark in the match on the Kent coast will be boy international Harry Goddard, who won the South East Junior Championship in May, and Alex Fitzpatrick, younger brother of two-time winner on the European Tour Matthew. Both Goddard and Fitzpatrick were part of the English Boys Home Internationals team who won back the title from Scotland earlier this month.
The Continent of Europe Team, which will be led by non-playing captain Jeroen Stevens from the Netherlands, will be aiming to win the trophy for the first time since 2012 at Portmarnock Golf Club. The team features a host of players who made the final stages of the Boys Amateur Championship at Muirfield and Renaissance Club earlier this month, including the winner, Germany’s Falko Hanisch.
Spain’s Alejandro Aguilera Martin, defeated by Hanisch on the 37th hole in the final, takes his place in the Continent of Europe team, alongside semi-finalist Adrien Pendaries. Pendaries, whose father Marc is a former European Tour player and coach, became the first French winner of the Irish Boys Amateur Open Championship in 2015 at Tuam Golf Club. Sweden’s Marcus Svensson, who was Boys Amateur champion in 2015 at Royal Birkdale, also takes his place in the European team.
The Jacques Leglise Trophy was first played in 1977 with GB&I dominating the early encounters, losing only three times before 1995. Since then, the Continent of Europe has won seven matches including the 2012 match at Portmarnock.
Last year at Royal Dornoch GB&I held a narrow one-point advantage going into the final day but the outcome looked far form assured after the Continent of Europe turned the match on its head by winning the morning foursomes 3 ½ - ½ to open up a 9-7 lead going into the singles.
For most of the afternoon Scotland’s Sandy Scott trailed Norway’s Viktor Hovland in the anchor match. Buoyed by a large local support, the Nairn golfer rallied from two down with four to play to get back to all-square playing the 18th.
A halved match would have been enough for GB&I to win the contest outright but Hovland had other ideas. He fired his 200 yard approach over the flag to 15 feet and two-putted for par, while Scott, who won the 2015 Scottish Boys Open Stroke Play Championship, missed the green right and was unable to get up and down for par, losing the match by one hole. The match was tied for the first time since 1978.
This year’s contest gets underway on Friday. The format consists of four foursomes ties each morning with eight singles matches on the afternoon of Friday 26 August and nine singles matches on the afternoon of Saturday 27 August.
For scoring and reports from the matches please visit Championships.randa.org.