St Andrews & Jacques Leglise Trophy - Day 1 - Morning Foursomes

JLEurope made a solid start to the defence of their St Andrews Trophy title after halving the foursomes 2-2 against Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) on the opening morning at Portmarnock Golf Club in Ireland.

GB&I have the much stronger record in this biennial team competition with 24 wins against Europe’s four. However, one of those four victories was last time out at the 2010 encounter in Italy (Europe won 14-10 in Castelconturbia) so Europe arrived at the famous north Dublin venue with real purpose.  

It was something of an inauspicious start for Amateur champion Alan Dunbar, who blocked his opening tee shot out of bounds and into the Baldoyle Estuary as playing partner Neil Raymond was called into action sooner than expected. GB&I captain Nigel Edwards wasn’t long moving alongside Dunbar and between them they shared wry smiles on the first tee.

The pair never managed to find top gear and though the match was tight it was also somewhat scrappy as conditions were testing over the pristine links. In the end Edouard Espana from France and Germany’s Moritz Lampert put the first points on the board for Europe with a 2&1 win.

GB&I fought back to win the middle matches. The English pair of Craig Hinton and Ben Taylor defeated Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and Denmark’s Thomas Sorensen 2&1.

In the third match European Amateur champion Rhys Pugh and England’s Garrick Porteous were always in control against Manuel Trappel (Austria) Marcel Schneider (Germany).

Pugh had a chance to close out the match on the 13th green but the Welshman uncharacteristically missed a short four foot putt. However, the GB&I pair closed out the match at the next to win 5&4.

JLIreland’s Kevin Phelan had plenty of the home crowds following when playing alongside England’s Nathan Kimsey. Although the GB&I rallied mid-round to get back on level terms after 11 holes, they failed to capitalise and eventually lost 3&2 against the Spanish partnership of Carlos Pigem and Jacobo Pastor.

Europe made and even better start in the Jacques Leglise Trophy, the equivalent competition to the St Andrews Trophy at under-18 level but played annually. Gary Strangl’s side take a 2.5-1.5 lead into the singles after a determined morning foursomes session.

The high point for GB&I came in the top match with the Irish pairing of Gavin Moynihan and Alex Gleeson running out comprehensive 5&4 winners against the French duo of Kenny Subregis and Romain Langasque.         

“We played really solid golf, hit lots of greens, which is the key in foursomes,” said The Castle’s Gleeson afterwards. “We finished the match off with two birdies.

“Gavin’s short game is ridiculously good. We birdied the par five 13th after we got up and down from 100 yards then Gavin hit a seven iron into 10 feet on the 14th and I holed the putt to win the match.”    

The Swedish pair of Victor Tarnstrom and Hannes Ronneblad defeated the highly regarded English duo of Toby Tree and Max Orrin at the 18th.

In the following match, Matthias Schwab, this year’s Amateur Championship runner up to Dunbar, alongside Germany’s Dominic Foos won 3&2 against another English pair of Ashton Turner Patrick Kelly.

The bottom match between Mario Galiano (Spain) and Giulio Castagnara (Italy) was halved against England’s Harry Ellis and Boys Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.