The Continent of Europe claimed a slender 7-5 lead over Great Britain and Ireland after day one of The Vagliano Trophy at Royal St George’s.
Chasing a seventh straight win in the biennial contest, the visitors secured a 3-1 lead after the morning foursomes matches over the renowned Kent links.
In the blustery and warm conditions, Great Britain and Ireland quickly sparked an afternoon fightback with an impressive 7&6 singles victory for Scotland’s Hazel MacGarvie against Girls Amateur champion Emma Spitz.
However, the Continent of Europe managed to half the session 4-4 and go into tomorrow’s final day with the two-point lead as they seek to retain the trophy they last won in Italy in 2017.
Anna Roscio, Captain – Continent of Europe, said, “We are happy to be two points ahead. It was a tough day in the wind. We played really well and had a fast start this morning in the foursomes. We had a few difficult moments in the afternoon, but we got a great point at the end with Albane (Valenzuela) so we are happy.
“It was a good result for the day, absolutely, to lead by two. They are great players, obviously Great Britain and Ireland are more used to the wind than us, but we have a Girls Amateur champion (Spitz) so we are experienced as well.”
At the venue for next year’s 149th Open, there were convincing singles victories for the Continent of Europe pair Leonie Harm and Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, defeating Isobel Wardle and Shannon McWilliam in respective 6&5 triumphs.
Great Britain and Ireland, who last lifted The Vagliano Trophy in 2005, fought back as Alice Hewson defeated Alessia Nobilio 3&1. Ireland’s Julie McCarthy then secured a notable 3&1 success against the top-ranked player in the match, Swede Frida Kinhult, who sits 3rd on the World Amateur Golf Ranking™.
With Emily Toy, the new Women’s Amateur champion, beating Caterina Don by two holes, Great Britain and Ireland’s hopes were further raised, but a superb eagle at the final hole, holing from 12 feet at the par-5, saw Linn Grant win a fantastic match against Lily May Humphreys. Albane Valenzuela claimed the final point of the day after beating Annabell Fuller 2&1.
Earlier, for the opening foursomes, the Swedish pair of Kinhult and Grant lost the opening hole to Humphreys and Hewson before exerting their authority with three wins from the 9th hole to go on and claim a 4&3 win. Don and Nobilio achieved an even more emphatic success for the Continent of Europe, beating Fuller and McCarthy 6&5.
Toy and English compatriot Wardle offered optimism for Great Britain and Ireland when they led Harm and Spitz by one hole after the 6th. However, Austria’s Spitz rolled in a 25 feet putt on the 16th to secure a 3&2 victory and give the Continent of Europe a 3-0 cushion.
The Scottish duo McWilliam and MacGarvie refused to be denied in the bottom match, putting the first point on the board for the home side with a one-hole win over Valenzuela and Roussin-Bouchard.
In the Junior Vagliano Trophy, the Under-16’s version of the competition, Great Britain and Ireland hold a 5-4 lead – helped by two wins from Ireland’s Beth Coulter.
After the Continent of Europe won the foursomes 2-1 in the six-a-side match, the hosts hit back in the singles, with victories from Coulter, Hannah Darling and Darcey Harry.
Elaine Ratcliffe, Captain – Great Britain and Ireland, said, “It has ended up being mixed emotions today, which is not fair on the quality of golf played by my team. There were some cracking wins out there for us this afternoon, but for Lily and Annabell to lose late on just dampens the mood slightly.
“But there was a lot of fantastic golf out there with the wins for Alice, Julie, Emily and Hazel. The icing on the cake would have been some points from the last matches as we were close to it. But we are right in it for tomorrow and I’m just proud of the girls and the manner in which they played this afternoon.”
Entry is free of charge at Royal St George’s while live scoring, news and video can be followed on The R&A’s website and social media platforms.