Great Britain and Ireland hold a two point advantage over the Continent of Europe after day one of the St Andrews Trophy at Linna Golf, Finland.
Craig Watson’s side won the afternoon singles matches 5-3 and will go into the second day with a 7-5 lead after this morning’s foursomes matches were drawn.
“The team played very well today,” said Watson. “It’s only half time, as they say. We were in the same position as they were two years ago so we know that the job is only half done. There was a lot of good golf on display on a fantastic golf course.
“The match will be determined by putting and it all comes down to that. There’s not much difference between the two teams, we just managed to hole more putts today.
“Everybody contributed today and I don’t think there will be any changes for tomorrow. It would be good to build a lead in the morning foursomes before we play the final singles matches.”
Yves Hofstetter, Captain of the Continent of Europe, said, “We played well in the foursomes as traditionally it is not a strong format for us. I was a little bit disappointed about this afternoon as the matches were so close. You can’t complain too much though as it can go the other way so easily.
“Tomorrow’s singles will decide the match and the players must play from the first hole. We take inspiration from GB&I being in a similar position last time and anything is possible. We want to win that trophy back.”
Win for Lacroix
It was the Continent of Europe who secured the first point of the singles matches after Frenchman Federic Lacroix secured a comprehensive 6&5 win over John Murphy. Lacroix went on a run of four consecutive birdies from the 9th hole before closing out the contest on the 13th after the Irishman could only manage a bogey.
GB&I responded by picking up the next two points following wins for Robin Dawson (one hole) and Matthew Jordan (3&1) over Marc Hammer and Sami Valimaki. Gian-Marco Petrozzi and Conor Purcell strengthened the advantage when they both secured 4&3 results against Lorenzo Filippo Scalise and Edgar Catherine.
Sweden’s Fredrik Nilehn and Finland’s Matias Honkala, who holds the course record at Linna Golf (64), pulled the hosts back into the match with narrow wins over Todd Clements and Mitch Waite but David Hague restored the margin to two points after beating Angel Hidalgo Portillo in the last match out on the course.
The two teams were deadlocked at 2-2 following the morning foursomes matches. Poppleton and Waite were in impressive form to defeat Catherine and Lacroix 4&3. The English pairing never relinquished the lead after winning the third hole and closed the match out on the par five 15th with a birdie.
Two of the other matches were decided by one hole – Jordan and Petrozzi beat Portillo and Nilehn, while Italian duo Mazzoli and Scalise sealed a win over Purcell and Hague.
Vital birdies by Honkala and Valimaki on the 15th and 17th holes ensured a 2&1 victory against Irish pair Dawson and Murphy.
Full scores can be found here.