England staged a confident performance today to beat Spain 13-7 in the mixed international at Formby Golf Club and keep their firm grip on the Seve Ballesteros Trophy.
They built on yesterday’s one point lead with a 4-1 win in this morning’s foursomes before taking six of the 10 singles.
Ben Jones scored the winning point when he holed a 35ft birdie putt to clinch his match 3/2 and he said: “It’s always nice to do, but as long as the team wins it doesn’t matter who takes us over the line. For the team to win is always great!”
The match started in 1985 as a men’s fixture with England leading Spain 14-2 by 2013. It became a mixed event in 2015 and England have now won the three matches played so far.
This weekend’s event began in the most challenging of conditions with winds gusting around 50mph. The weather meant that yesterday’s singles were abandoned, but the teams managed to play one session of foursomes.
England Golf Performance Director Nigel Edwards had praise for his players’ attitude when the going got tough. “Conditions were extremely difficult but the attitude they showed paved the way for today’s play, which was really good. The players really showed what they can do when the conditions are more favourable.”
After the first session England led 3-2; after this morning’s foursomes the lead was extended to 7-3 and the team made quick work of the singles, knowing they needed just 3.5 points to retain the trophy.
Tom Plumb was first to score, notching up five birdies as he won 3/2. “We had a great foursomes this morning and a good lead, so we all wanted to get some points on the board early. Everyone wants to win!”
Ben Hutchinson followed him almost immediately, scoring 5/4 on his debut at this level and defeating Spain’s best-ranked player, Victor Pastor. “It’s my first experience and it’s been good, especially to get the win,” he said.
Bailey Gill took England to within touching distance of victory when he won 5/3, playing nicely under par. “It’s so nice to be in your own country, representing your country. It’s something I always wanted to do so I was really happy to be picked for this.”
His result left the way clear for Jones to clinch the victory. But the team wasn’t finished. Lily May Humphreys had seven birdies in her round as she worked her way to a 5/3 win, finishing off with an impressive up and down from a steep sandhill beside the green. Bel Wardle completed the scoreline with a strong finish, winning 15 and 16 to set up her 2/1 victory.
Wardle won all three of her games this weekend, as did Jones and Gill.
Edwards added: “This is a new team and irrespective of whether they won their individual matches or not, they will have a learned a lot about themselves and international golf. They will reflect on how to push on to gain further international honours and, hopefully, individual success.”
Georgina Blackman, 23, (Chelmsford, Essex)
Jake Burnage, 23, (Saunton, Devon)
Bailey Gill, 21, (Lindrick, Yorkshire)
Lily May Humphreys, 17, (Stoke by Nayland, Essex)
Ben Hutchinson, 23, (Howley Hall, Yorkshire)
Ben Jones, 19, (Northamptonshire County, Northamptonshire)
Tom Plumb, 20, (Yeovil, Somerset)
Tom Sloman, 22, (Taunton & Pickeridge, Somerset)
Emily Toy, 21, (Carlyon Bay, Cornwall)
Bel Wardle, 19, (Prestbury, Cheshire)
Caption: The winning England team, from left, Ben Jones, Bailey Gill, Emily Toy, Tom Sloman, Georgina Blackman, Tom Plumb, Bel Wardle, Jake Burnage, Lily May Humphreys, Ben Hutchinson. (Image copyright Leaderboard Photography).