England and defending champions Ireland took the honours on the first day of the Men’s Home Internationals at Moortown, Yorkshire.
England, with a team including six new caps, defeated Scotland 9-6 while Ireland recovered from an early wobble in the foursomes to beat Wales by the same scoreline.
The England campaign got off to a quick start with a 4-1 win in the foursomes – helped by a dramatic spell on the 18th hole.
In the space of a few minutes, Matthew Jordan and Gian-Marco Petrozzi got up and down from behind the green to halve; new English amateur champion Todd Clements holed out from the greenside bunker for a winning birdie in his game with Dan Brown; and Jack Gaunt holed a 40ft birdie putt for a 1-up win in his game, in partnership with David Hague (pictured top).
The team emerged from the foursomes unbeaten with a 5/4 win for Josh Hilleard and Will Whiteoak and a half for Jake Burnage and Bradley Moore.
The Scots responded with a determined start in the singles and they were quickly up in four of the early games. But, England’s later players took charge of their matches and the momentum swung back to the hosts.
Gian-Marco Petrozzi put the first singles point on the board with a 3/2 win. He was one of the players who were subjected to the early Scottish onslaught, with Craig Ross starting with an eagle. But solid golf, with few mistakes, took him to four up after 12 and he made steady progress to his win. “I was teeing off first and putting the pressure on, hitting fairways and greens first and holing some putts,” said Petrozzi.
Scotland immediately pushed back, forcing Matthew Jordan and Todd Clements to accept halved games and inflicting a final-hole defeat on Will Whiteoak. But England proved too strong, with David Hague completing a dream debut, with two points from two games, and Bradley Moore taking the team over the winning line before Josh Hilleard added his second point of the day.
Hague, playing in his home county of Yorkshire, said: “It’s a great start to get two wins on my debut. I was nervous this morning, it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever played in, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Team captain Kevin Tucker commented: “It was a real tussle, we got off to a slow start this afternoon before the boys fought back well in the middle, and then it got really tight again at the end.
“I’m thrilled that the new players have had a good first day. They’ve settled in well and hopefully that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the week.”
Alongside Hague, the new caps are Jake Burnage, Todd Clements, Jack Gaunt, Will Whiteoak and Tom Sloman, who missed today’s match with a neck injury.
In the day’s other match, Ireland – who are aiming for their fourth consecutive win – trailed Wales 3-2 after an unexpected foursomes result.
But they powered out in the singles, taking charge of most games over the opening holes and they went on to take seven points from the 10 matches.
Team captain Tony Goode remarked; “You can never predict what will happen in foursomes but in fairness to my lads I know their ability and they were exceptionally disappointed and hurt to lose three games. But they did the business in the afternoon and produced the goods.
“But there’s a long way to go and we need to step up a gear because England and Scotland are going to be tough opponents. They need to get their A game together.”
He had special praise for new cap Caolan Rafferty, who won his singles 3/1 and commented: “He performed exceptionally well.”
Leading Ireland player Paul McBride, who has had a wrist injury, was rested this afternoon but will play tomorrow.
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