Golden glory for Spain and disappointment for England – that’s the story of the final day of the European ladies’ team championship at Fulford, York.
Spain (Image © Leaderboard Photography) beat Austria in the final to become champions for the fifth time, amid scenes of great celebration by the players. But England ended the week empty handed when they lost the bronze medal play-off to Finland.
The team were on the back foot after lost both morning foursomes, one finishing on the 19th and the other on the 18th. But they vowed to come out fighting in the singles – and that’s exactly what they did.
They needed to take four of the five afternoon matches and, although Bronte Law lost her match, it was a case of ‘game on’ when Georgia Hall, Hayley Davis (Image © Leaderboard Photography) and Meghan MacLaren all won. But a birdie blitz from Lauren Taylor’s opponent stopped the charge in its tracks.
Lauren had been ahead after 13 holes, but Finland’s Krista Bakker, produced a run of consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th to come from one down to two up. When the 17th was halved, England’s medal hopes were finally ended and it was Finland who took the bronze.
England captain Emma Brown remarked: “We had a great fightback in the singles, they all played well this afternoon and made it an exciting, close match. They are disappointed, but they have done well and they will bounce back.”
Steve Robinson, the England coach, echoed her words: “We’ve given a lot of people a lot of entertainment this week and we ended up playing for a medal.
“We would have liked to win one and I am disappointed for the girls after they put in such a lot of effort. I can’t fault them for effort, they were 2-0 down and they gave Finland a fright. I’m proud of them.”
In the final, Spain put the early pressure on Austria when they won both morning foursomes and needed just two points from the singles.
The afternoon session was closely contested and each side had won a point before the top game turned into the decider. Austria came down the 18th one-up, but Spain’s Noemi Jiminez squared the match when she got up and down from a bunker for birdie.
When she sank her par putt on the 19th to win the hole and the championship it was the signal for the Spanish celebrations to begin.
Spain’s captain Mabel Pascual Del Pobil said: “I am so happy, it has been so tight. We have been so close this year in other events that we really wanted this. It’s been a really tough week and the girls have played great. I am very, very proud of my team.”
The championship ended as it began, in glorious sunshine, with another eye-catching ceremony featuring all the teams and the Yorkshire Volunteer Band.
Tributes were paid to Fulford Golf Club’s support for the event, for their green staff’s work to present the course in superb condition and for the army of volunteers who helped to make the tournament run so smoothly.
Fulford president Barbara Saville told the players: “We have loved having you here and hope you return to your countries with happy memories.”
The 2014 championship will be hosted by Slovenia.