A combined team of Scottish seniors achieved history at Pyle & Kenfig GC in Wales, by winning the inaugural R&A Women’s & Men’s Senior Home Internationals trophy.
This was the first time combined teams have competed for a trophy to honour the best side in British and Irish senior golf. England took the Sue Johnson Trophy for the 11th time as winners of the Women’s Senior Home Internationals, while Scotland earned a bonus as victors of the Men’s Senior Home Internationals for the fourth time. Both championships were run concurrently with the combined team competition. Scotland topped the points table with three points out of three. Ireland finished second with two points, while England came third with half a point as the Welsh finished fourth.
The silverware went Scotland’s way thanks to a final day 11½–6½ victory over Ireland, while England defeated Wales 14½–3½.“It feels amazing,” said Fiona de Vries, the overall Scottish captain. “It’s been a fantastic team effort from start to finish. It’s been an amazing experience. We’ve all got on really well together, we’ve had fun and we’ve played great golf.”Scotland and Ireland entered the final day tied with two points apiece, with Ireland holding top spot courtesy of more games won. Scotland soon turned that statistic around with a 5–1 win in the foursomes. “To win the morning foursomes against a strong Irish side was phenomenal,” added de Vries. “If you’ve asked me if we’d have been 5-1 up I’d have bitten your arm off. It gave us the momentum we needed going into the singles. I had faith we’d come through.”
The opening two matches proved crucial to the morning session. Both games were all square through the first 16 holes only for Scotland to prevail over the last two holes. Karen Ferguson-Snedden and Wendy Nicholson led the way. All square after 17 holes against Irish pair Laura Webb and Carol Wickham, the Scots eked out a one-hole victory by winning the 18th. Paul Moultrie and Scottish men’s captain Ronnie Clark were two down with four holes to play, but won the next three holes to win by one hole. Those two triumphs gave Scotland a crucial advantage going into the 12 singles: it meant Scotland only needed four and half points to take the new trophy. They won the singles 6½–5½.
English women thrive
England’s women golfers excelled at Pyle & Kenfig, winning all three contests in the race for the Sue Johnson Trophy. Overall English team captain Alan Mew reiterated that fact throughout the competition. “I can’t praise the women enough,” Mew said. “They were superb this week.” They were certainly superb against Wales on the final day, winning the contest 7–2. Three-time Curtis Cup player Emma Brown and Kerry Smith, who played together in the 2002 match at Fox Chapel GC in Pittsburgh, deserve special mention. Both players won all six of their matches, including three as a foursomes duo, to lead the English team. “I’m very proud of all the team, they played brilliantly all week,” said Angela Jones, English Women’s captain. “We had two super new rookies this year in Emma and Kerry who both played very well. It made a big difference to have them in the team.”
Double Scottish success
Scotland’s men won the Past Presidents’ Trophy for the fourth time thanks to a final day win over Ireland. The Scots won the opening foursomes 3–0, meaning they only needed two points from the singles. They duly did that when Stewart Henderson defeated Eamon Haugh 4&3 and Robert Jenkins won one up over David Mulholland to give the Scots the five points from nine they needed.“It’s great to win both trophies, because we’ve gelled well with the women this week,” said Scottish men’s captain Clark. “I’ve been on a winning Home Internationals team before and I’ve had European success, but to get this win as captain is special. “The team was evenly balanced and there was no obvious player to leave out each day, so that was the hardest part of my job. It was a battle this week and I’m just so thankful to come out on top. Wow! Absolutely brilliant.”All four teams will reconvene at West Kilbride Golf Club, Scotland, from 19–21 September next year.Final scores here