England made home advantage count to make a clean sweep of the R&A Women’s, Boys’ and Girls’, and Senior Men’s and Women’s Home Internationals at Woodhall Spa.
A clean sweep for England! 🏴🏆— The R&A (@RandA) August 6, 2021
In the Home Internationals for Junior, Women and Senior golfers, the English team took victory across all matches at Woodhall Spa 👏 pic.twitter.com/LFT76uK88n
The 106th R&A Women’s Home Internationals couldn’t have provided a more fitting end. Three matches to determine whether England or Ireland would win the International Shield was appropriate for two evenly matched teams.
England prevailed 6-3 on the day to win the International Shield for the second straight contest and the 64th time outright since the competition began in 1895 when England won at Royal Portrush.
It was the second straight competition that came down to a fight between England and Ireland. England took the title two years ago at Downfield Golf Club in Scotland with a narrow 5-4 victory on the final day. This time they took advantage of local knowledge to take the title.
However, the result could easily have been the other way round.
After a 3-3 split in the morning singles, England’s women swept all three afternoon foursomes to top the four nations table with three points from three victories and a 21½-5½ match points total for the week. Ireland had two points, while Scotland came third with one point thanks to an 8½-½ final day victory over Wales.
With thunder and lightning threatening the afternoon play, a decision was taken to reverse the order of sessions to play as many points as possible. That decision was justified when a crack of thunder sounded above Woodhall Spa shortly after the pairing of Hannah Screen and Amelia Jane Williamson had defeated Lauren Walsh and Sara Byrne 2&1 to ultimately seal the victory.
The lead pairing of Annabell Fuller and Charlotte Heath took care of Beth Coulter and Annabel Wilson 3&2, with Emily Toy and Caley McGinty defeating Aine Donegan and Anna Foster by the same score.
It heralded double joy for England in the space of a month after victory in the European Ladies’ Team Championship, with English captain Jennifer Henderson bringing five members of that winning side to Woodhall Spa.
Hard fought match
“The scoreboard doesn’t really do justice to the golf that was played out there by both sides,” Henderson said. “My team played brilliantly, but 6-3 flatters us a little bit. It was a hard fought match by both sides and, as usual, it was a putt here or there that probably decided the overall result.
“My team have come out this week and worked hard, played hard and been brave on the course as a team. They’ve all chipped in points to the victory, but that’s not surprising because it’s a very strong team. I’m really happy with how they’ve gelled together on and off the course, which made my job so much easier.
“To add this trophy to the European Team Championship was always a tough ask because nothing can ever be taken for granted in this game. But we had confidence from that performance, and it just shows the continued strength of the quality coming through the England Golf at moment. It was great golf to watch, and it’s just a pleasure for me to be a part of it.”
It was a pleasure for Irish captain Laura Webb too. Ireland is still looking for its first Home Internationals since winning the 2017 contest at Little Aston. However, Webb left Woodhall Spa buoyed by her side’s performance.
“I’m proud of my team,” Webb said. “We’ve come really close to beating England on their home patch, with a team that’s ranked much higher than us on average on the World Amateur Golf Ranking®. So how could I be disappointed in their performance? I’m disappointed for them, but not disappointed in them.
“For them to split the singles this morning to take the match down to the wire is a credit to Irish women’s golf. This afternoon it came down to England just edging it in all three matches. Things didn’t quite go our way, but my team is a great bunch of girls and they will bounce back from this and get stronger because of the experience.”
Scotland took third place thanks to a strong closing performance against Wales. The Scots laid down a statement of intent with a 6-0 morning singles victory, before taking the foursomes session 2½-½. The Welsh pairing of Kath O’Connor and Ellen Nicholas helped Wales avoid a final day whitewash by halving with Shannon McWilliam and Hazel MacGarvie.
English wins for juniors and seniors
It turned out to be a clean sweep for England at Woodhall Spa in a year when women and men, boys and girls played together for the first time.
England’s juniors won three points out of three to top the points table, with Scotland finishing second with two points, and Ireland placing third with one and Wales finishing bottom.
The English Seniors also topped the points table to make it triple celebration for England.Explore all Home Internationals results and more here.