England off to a flier against Spain

England made an impressive start to this weekend’s mixed international against Spain at Burnham & Berrow, winning four of the five foursomes.

It was a morning which had everything: a challenging wind on the superbly prepared links course, excellent ball striking, remarkable short game shots, a runaway win, a tight finish – and even a hole-in-one.

The first point was quickly on the board, thanks to English amateur champion Nick Marsh and Michael Saunders. They made very short work of their match, winning 7/6 against opponents who included the world number 12.

Marsh and Saunders had three birdies in their 12 holes, finishing at the windiest point on the course. They mostly steered clear of trouble but also demonstrated fine short game skills when required.

This international dates back to 1985 but, for the first time this year, it’s a mixed match – and the pairing of Gemma Clews and Hollie Muse were quick to make an impression. Their long, straight hitting scythed through the wind and, with a deft touch on the greens, they won their match 5/4.

The top pairing of double European champion Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen played rock steady golf in the wind and were just one over par when they tied up their match 2/1.

Just behind them, Sean Towndrow and Ashton Turner were also in control throughout their match, holing out extremely well when required and winning 2/1.

The final match on the course, involving Bethan Popel and Alice Hewson, was also the most dramatic, before eventually going Spain’s way. Popel (pictured © Leaderboard Photography) provided the shot of the morning when she holed in one on the 14th with a five iron – and took the match back to all square.

It led to an intensely close finish, where much of the action was decided by scrambles around the greens. Spain got ahead again on the 16th but lost the 17th, then finally snatched the point with a par on the last.