Continent defeat GB&I 14 - 10 to claim St Andrews Trophy

The Continent of Europe's Jacques Leglise Trophy team celebrate victory.The Continent of Europe have defeated Great Britain and Ireland to win the 2010 St Andrews Trophy Match at Castelconturbia, near Milan, Italy. Having led by 8 ½ - 7 ½ going into day two’s afternoon singles, the Continent won five-and-a-half of the eight points on offer to clinch the Match 14 – 10.

It is the Continent’s first victory in the biennial team event since 1998, when they overcame GB&I by the same margin at Villa D’Este, also in Italy. Of the Continent’s four successes in the history of the event, three of those have now come on Italian soil.

It fell to Germany’s Max Kieffer to hole the putt that took the match beyond GB&I’s reach, as he defeated Scotland’s Michael Stewart by one hole. Before that, Espen Kofstad of Norway had emphatically overcome Irishman Paul Cutler 6&5, and Italy’s Nino Bertasio had edged out James Byrne by one hole, after a tight match in which neither player could establish a lead of more than 1up.

“I think it was a pretty important point because it set us on our way to winning,” said Bertasio, who played in the Italian Open on the European Tour in May, and grew up playing at the same club as Matteo Manassero. Max Kieffer shakes hands with Michael Stewart“It was a wonderful match against James [Byrne]. It was so close all the way through. This is an important event for me and it’s a thrill to represent Europe and help them to win.”

Despite losing his afternoon singles encounter, for 2010 Amateur Championship runner-up Byrne, it was Friday morning’s foursomes, after which GB&I trailed 1 – 3, that ultimately led to the defeat.

“Yesterday morning left us with a lot to do, and we were playing catch-up for the rest of the match,” said the 21-year-old, who is about to enter his senior year at Arizona State University. “Saying that, we were actually looking good half-way through the singles, but we just fell short on the last couple of holes.

“It’s been a great experience, and Nigel [Edwards] has been a fantastic Captain. Now I’m really looking forward to next year’s match against the USA.”

Non-playing Captain Nigel Edwards, a playing member of three successful St Andrews Trophy teams in 2002, 2004 and 2006, concurred with that assessment and, while disappointed with defeat, could take many positives from the two days of competition.

Tom Lewis was a winner for GB&I today.“Obviously yesterday morning put us on the back foot, but, to a man, the team responded in the best possible way,” explained Edwards. “Unfortunately, the results didn’t go our way, and the Continent ran out worthy winners.

“However, this group of individuals, who will form the back-bone of the GB&I Walker Cup team, have proved that they have the talent, the determination and the team-spirit to overcome any opponent on their day.”

GB&I’s two-and-a-half singles points came courtesy of three Englishmen. There were victories for Tom Lewis by one hole over France’s Romain Wattel, and for Darren Wright by 2&1 over Jesper Kennegard of Sweden. The half-point was won by their compatriot Matthew Nixon, who was playing Finland’s Kalle Samooja.

In addition those won by Bertasio, Kofstad and Kieffer, and the half earned by Samooja, the Continent of Europe’s remaining points came from Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen, who defeated Scot Ross Kellett 4&2; and Pontus Widegren of Sweden, who overcame England’s Eddie Pepperell 2&1.

GB&I will next come together to contest the Walker Cup Match against the USA on 10 & 11 September, 2011, at Royal Aberdeen.