England is in pole position to win the 106th R&A Women’s Home Internationals after a near perfect day against Wales at Woodhall Spa. However, Ireland stated its intention of winning the trophy for the first time since 2017 by defeating 2018 winners Scotland in a tight match.
The English boys and girls team is in a commanding position after day one, while not much separates England and Scotland’s senior men and women. Both senior men and women and boys and girls make history this week by playing in the same teams, while Woodhall Spa sees three Home International matches played simultaneously over the same venue for the first time.
England’s women have had to wait two years because of Covid-19 to defend the trophy they won at Downfield, Scotland. The home team is looking to win the trophy outright for the 64th time and the seventh time in the last 10 matches. The side also arrives at England Golf’s headquarters fresh from defeating Sweden 5-2 to win the European Amateur Team Championships at Royal County Down. Five members of that winning team are in action this week.
After edging Wales 2-1 in the morning foursomes, England quickly proved the World Amateur Golf Ranking® doesn’t mislead when it comes to head to head match play. England team captain Jennifer Henderson can count on four players in the world top 100, while Wales has no players in the top 1,000. It came as no surprise that England swept the singles session 6-0 with no match reaching the 18th green.
England and Ireland sit level on the points table with one point apiece, but England holds a better match points score of 8-1 versus Ireland’s 5½-3½ tally.
“The team went out there with a job to do and ultimately brought it home,” Henderson said. “I’m really pleased with the performances today. They’ve all played really great golf. They were certainly pushed by the Welsh team at times, but they went out there with clear mindsets and did the job.
“Winning the Europeans has given them confidence, but that was a few weeks ago and, although we take the successes when we have them, it’s on to the next tournament. We know it’s going to be a tough job this week. Nothing’s going to be taken for granted.
“It’s just a case of go out, keep their heads down and to what we do best.
“We have a good team that works well together. It’s never an easy decision to sit a player out of each session, but I think we’ve got a great atmosphere within the team that makes those decisions easier.”
Ireland shade it
In the other contest, Scotland and Ireland split their morning foursomes session with one and a half points each. The singles threw up some enticing matches with Ireland just shading the six games 4-2.
“We were very happy to come away with a halved foursomes result because it could have gone either way,” Irish team captain Laura Webb said. “That left the singles open so for us to edge it was good. I’m really proud of how the girls played. They all played very hard and we managed to sneak it.
“I’m very happy for the team because it was always going to be a tough match. At this standard, none of the matches are going to be pushovers, so everyone has to concentrate. Neither team knows the course that well so it just makes it more of a challenge for both sides. It’s a course that calls for lots of concentration on tee shots and shots into tricky greens, so it was tough for both teams.”
England now play Scotland while Ireland take on Wales, thereby setting up a potential England v Ireland showdown on Friday.
Home juniors deliver
England’s Boys and Girls team got off to the best start of the trifecta of Home International competitions. England’s under 18 team put up a quick seven points on the board with a 7-0 sweep of Ireland in the opening foursomes session.
That form carried over into the singles with England winning 11-2 to sit tied at the top of the points table with Scotland, but with a superior match points total of 19-2. Scotland’s match points total is 14½-6½, the margin of defeat over Wales thanks to winning the foursomes 4½-1½ and a 10-5 singles victory.
England now play Wales, with Scotland and Ireland competing in the other tie.
England and Scotland lead the way in the contest pitting the best male and female seniors from the four nations, with the home team slightly shading the points table. England ran out 8-4 winners over Ireland after a 3-1 morning foursome victory and a 5-3 win in singles play. Scotland bettered Wales 7-5, splitting the foursomes 2-2 before taking the singles 5-3.