England lead Spain after storm-tossed start

England lead Spain 3-2 after a storm-tossed first day of the mixed international at Formby Golf Club in Lancashire.

The players were faced with extremely strong winds and icy, driving rain. The main scoreboard blew over before play began, trolleys toppled regularly, balls moved on the green and on the tee – and bogeys were quite acceptable!

The brutal weather meant that the singles were abandoned and the day’s play was reduced to five foursomes, contested in the most demanding conditions.

Birdies were definitely in short supply but there was plenty of impressive play as the teams battled the conditions.

Both of the England women’s pairings won their games, with Georgina Blackman and Lily May Humphreys defeating their opponents 2/1, while Bel Wardle and Emily Toy took their point by the margin of two holes. England’s third point came from Bailey Gill and Ben Jones who won 5/4.

Experience helped. Wardle won the English Girls’ Championship in similar conditions while Humphreys could count two or three comparable outings. But the clear consensus was that today was tough.

“It was really hard,” said Blackman. “The mix of the wind and rain made it so tough. You had to keep it in play, just plod along and try not to do anything silly.”

Humphreys, who recounted playing a five-iron on a shot where she’d usually take a pitching wedge, said the secret was “Don’t go in the bunkers! We kept the ball in play really well and if we were out of position we got back.”

Gill and Jones were ahead throughout their game and sealed it on the 14th when Gill holed a 5ft putt, despite it being so windy he could hardly take the putter back.

“We just got on with it,” he said. “It was bearable, it wasn’t overly enjoyable but you just had to get the job done.

He added: “Ben and I seem to get on well on the course, we simplify things and that’s especially important when it’s windy like this. You just need to have one shot in your mind.”

Spain won the first point of the match when Victor Pastor and Eduard Rousaud sped to a big win, scoring roughly level par over 13 holes. Asier Aguirre and Sergio Parriego took their point on the 18th, keeping their one-hole advantage when England’s birdie putt slid by.

England team:

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)

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