England and Ireland are set to fight it out for the 106th R&A Women’s Internationals at Woodhall Spa in a rematch of the 105th contest.
Those lucky enough to be watching the best women amateurs in Great Britain and Ireland in Lincolnshire this week expect this year’s final day to be as close as it was two years ago, the last time the match was staged after Covid-19 forced the cancellation of last year’s contest.
England pipped Ireland to the title at Downfield Golf Club in Scotland in 2019. England won the final day 5-4 to lift the International Shield for the 63rd time outright. The home side will have to play as well as they did against Scotland today to retain the trophy.
England and Ireland sit atop the points table with two points each from two wins apiece. However, England holds the edge with a better match points total of 15½-2½ with Ireland having an 11½-6½ tally.
After taking the morning foursomes 2½-1½ against Scotland, England came close to sweeping the singles against a good Scottish side. The defending champions won the session 5-1, with only Scotland’s Hannah Darling taking a singles point. She defeated Annabell Fuller by two holes as England won with an overall score of 7½-1 ½.
“I’m really, really pleased with the result today because we were up against a strong Scottish side,” England captain Jennifer Henderson said. “The score is misleading because the result could have gone either way. There was some great golf out there from both sides, which always nice to see from the top women.
“All we ask for at this level is developmental opportunities. These girls are getting great chances to experience big moments, big shots, big putts, and all players are getting those moments this week which is fantastic to see.”
Henderson took time out to praise all players for the spirit with which this week’s Home Internationals is taking place.
“They get to this level and they’ve spent a lot of time either competing against each other in big tournaments or competing for each other at GB&I level. So all the matches this week have been played with great sportsmanship and in a nice atmosphere.”
Henderson wasn’t captain two years ago in Scotland, but she recently led England to victory in the European Amateur Team Championships at Royal County Down. She is keen to add the International Shield to England Golf’s trophy cabinet in its Woodhall Spa headquarters. Five of the victorious side in this year’s championships are in action at Woodhall Spa.
“Tomorrow is another day against a strong Irish team. We know it’s going to be a tough match, but we have a lot of strength and depth in the women and girls England Golf programme. We’re very lucky to have strong team of seven players.”
Ireland lie in wait
Ireland, too, has a strong side too. The team will be desperate to make amends for two years ago. Laura Webb’s seven players head into the final day on level-pegging thanks to a 6-3 victory over Wales, which consisted of a 2-1 morning foursomes win followed by a 4-2 advantage in singles. Webb is looking to bring the International Shield back to Ireland for the first time since 2017 at Little Aston.
“We were happy with the 2-1 end result in foursomes,” Webb said. “There was a bit of scrappy golf out there, so coming away with the win was pleasing. There were some really good performances in the singles and some close matches. The first two matches both went down the 18th and they were tight. We won the first by sinking a 25 foot putt and they won the other by pitching in from off the green, so that just proves how finely balanced the matches were.
“It’s nice that we’ve come through the two days to have a rematch of two years ago, but we know we have to improve tomorrow because England is an excellent team.
“We have a strong team too. We have a lot of girls that have come up through the ranks together and they are a very tight unit. They get on great and are excellent golfers. The tough thing for me is who to leave out of each session, that’s how strong this team is.”
Junior and senior deciders
In the R&A Boys’ and Girls’ Home Internationals, England and Scotland will battle it out for the title after finishing day two top of the table. Scotland ran out 12½-8 ½ winners over Ireland while England defeated Wales.
The R&A Senior Home Internationals will feature a contest between England’s top men and women against Scotland’s equivalent, as men and women make up this year’s competition for the first time.
England defeated Wales 8-4 to sit atop the table with two points, while Scotland has 1 ½ points after drawing with Ireland 6-6 today. It means Scotland have to beat England tomorrow to win the trophy.Full scores can be found via our Home Internationals Hub here.