England beat European champions, Ireland, in a thriller on the first day of the Senior Men’s Home Internationals at Crowborough Beacon in Sussex.
They were pulled through 4-3 by David Niven who turned his match around by winning five holes in a row and then holed a 40ft birdie putt on the last to snatch the crucial point.
“It was a great fightback and a fantastic start,” said England team captain Roy Smethurst. “It couldn’t have been closer and we have always struggled against Ireland, so we are absolutely delighted to win.”
The first day’s matches were decided by seven singles, instead of the usual combination of three foursomes and six singles, after heavy rain flooded the course and delayed play by over four hours.
When golf got underway it was Ireland who played their way to a narrow advantage. Both teams, who started on the 10th, had three wins apiece and Ireland’s Denis Deasy was leading England’s Niven in the deciding game.
But Niven won the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th to get back to all square and then won the 7th to move one ahead. Deasy came straight back with a birdie on the 8th to square matters, but Niven’s answer was to hole a 40-footer for a winning birdie on the last to secure the point. Niven (right) is pictured top with team-mate Richard Partridge (image © Leaderboard Photography).
England’s other points were scored by Richard Partridge (5/4), Stephen East (5/3) and Mark Stones (pictured right) who holed his second shot on the par five 14th for an albatross. It put him two up and he maintained his lead throughout the match, eventually winning 3/2.
In the day’s other match Scotland – the European bronze medallists – beat Wales 4-3 in another close encounter. Graham Bell, playing in the top match, was two down with five to play and birdied the next four holes to win in spectacular style.
Ian Brotherston and John Fraser both contributed comfortable wins by the margin of 4/3; while Lindsey Blair held on to a narrow one-up lead with a solid par four on the last to score his point.
“It’s been a tough day and a very tight match,” said playing captain David Gardner. “Wales are always tough to beat so we are delighted to get through a tough game.”
Tomorrow England will play Wales while Scotland play Ireland.
The England team is: Ian Attoe (Worplesdon), Stephen East (Moortown), Clive Jones (Toulouse), Alan Mew (Stoneham), David Niven (Newbury & Crookham), Richard Partridge (Wildernesse), Mark Stones (Boyce Hill).
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