St Andrews Trophy match begins tomorrow at Castelconturbia
Europe’s finest amateur golfers are set to contest the St Andrews Trophy, the biennial match which is taking place at Castelconturbia, near Milan, on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 August. Two nine-man teams representing Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) and the Continent of Europe will play four morning foursomes matches and eight afternoon singles on each of the two days.
GB&I will look to their highest-ranked players to lead the side. Scot James Byrne, currently 12th in the world, reached the final of the Amateur Championship at Muirfield in June this year, before being beaten by Korea’s Jin Jeong. World numbers 16 and 17 respectively, Ireland’s Paul Cutler and Matthew Nixon of England, will also be key members of GB&I Captain Nigel Edwards’ team. Lytham Trophy Champion Cutler reached the quarter-finals of the Amateur, while Nixon reached the semi-finals.
Tom Lewis will be another formidable opponent. The 19-year-old winner of the 2010 Berkhamsted Trophy has a proven match-play record, having won the Boys Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s last year and performed consistently well for England in the European Team Championship, the European Nations Cup and the Home Internationals. And 2010 Scottish Amateur Champion Michael Stewart from Troon Welbeck adds further strength with a strong match-play history that includes recently securing five-and-a-half points from six at Ashburnham in the Home Internationals.
GB&I arrive in Italy as the reigning champions, having triumphed 13 ½ - 10 ½ at Kingsbarns in 2008; their fifth consecutive victory. The Continent of Europe’s most recent success came in 1998, when they defeated their opponents 14 - 10 at Golf Villa D’Este in the last St Andrews Trophy Match to be held in Italy.
On the Continent of Europe’s team is world number three Romain Wattel. The Frenchman has enjoyed a good season, winning the Coupe Frayssineau-Mouchy and the Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship, as well as finishing tied-32nd in the Alstom Open de France on the European Tour. Another player the Continent will look to is Italy’s Nino Bertasio, the winner of the Copa Sotogrande, who competed in the Tuscany Open on the Challenge Tour and in the Italian Open on the European Tour, this year.
The St Andrews Trophy Match is played every other year, alternating with the Walker Cup. It is expected that several of the team representing GB&I in Italy will go on to do the same in the match against the USA at Royal Aberdeen, in 2011.
Running simultaneously at the same venue is the Jacques Leglise Trophy Match, which is contested by golfers representing GB&I and the Continent of Europe under the age of 18 and follows the same format as its senior counterpart. Played annually rather than biennially, match victories have been evenly shared in recent years with GB&I winning eight times and the Continent winning on six occasions in its last 14 stagings. GB&I won last year’s event 14 ½ - 9 ½ at Ganton.
Originally laid out by Robert Trent Jones Sr, Castelconturbia has twice hosted the Italian Open, in 1991 and 1998. The course record of 66 is held jointly by Jose Maria Olazabal and Costantino Rocca. For both matches, the course will measure 6,294 metres – 6,883 yards – and be played to a par of 72.
Scores and reports will appear on RandA.org throughout the days of competition.