England’s boys and girls produced an outstanding performance to claim a hat-trick of trophies from the 2022 Home Internationals.
Not only did the young English charges win the overall combined team event for the R&A Cup with victories over Ireland, Wales and Scotland, they also took the separate boys’ and girls’ titles (R&A Trophy and Stroyan Cup) to make it an impressive clean sweep.
Going into the final day, England had their destiny in their own hands. And they made sure there were no slip-up thanks to a hugely impressive 17-4 victory over Scotland.
The performance of the boys and girls may now provide the inspiration for the men and women to follow suit tomorrow.
A 12-9 win over Scotland at Ballyliffin means that victory over Ireland on the final day will give the men and women their own trio of successes.
Boys and Girls
The smiles, hugs and cheers told their own story as England’s boys’ and girls’ teams swept to victory over their home nations rivals.
After three days of tough competition, it was mission achieved for a largely young and inexperienced group of 16 young golfers.
A final day victory over Scotland by a 17-4 scoreline was just reward for the efforts of nine boys, seven girls as well as coaches and support staff over the course of the event at Downfield Golf Club on the outskirts of Dundee.
“We got out fast today,” said Stephen Burnett, captain of the boys’ team.
“We changed things around for the foursomes and they smashed it this morning. They did this afternoon too.
“In a way the format favours us because the more players there are the better it is for us, but they still had to go out there and do it.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them to win all three trophies. The team was fantastic, they prepared well, played well and it’s a great result.”
That sentiment was echoed by girls’ captain Jenny Henderson. She said: “I’m proud to have witnessed these girls grow as as a team and as individuals over the three days.
“For a young and relatively inexperienced team to have played the way they did against some very good players is something to be cherished.”
The platform for victory was built in the morning session as a dominant England team swept into a 6-1 lead after the foursomes.
Former Open champion Paul Lawrie – a fantastic supporter of junior golf in his homeland – was an interested spectator for the early games.
The 1999 Champion Golfer of the Year would have been happy to watch Niall Shiels Donegan and Daniel Bullen win an exciting top match against Dylan Shaw-Radford and Ben Brown which went the distance.
However, England’s strength shone through in the other games.
Sam Easterbrook made it five wins out five when he partnered with Frazer Jones to a 3&2 victory over Oliver Mukherjee and Fraser Laird.
Ellise Rymer joined Easterbrook on five wins when she teamed up with Sophia Fullbrook to win the fourth game on the course.
All over the course, England putts were dropping and spirits were lifted.
Ellen Yates and Amelia Wan chipped in with a point, as did Josh Hill and Joe Sykes.
Imogen Williamson and Isla McDonald O’Brien were pushed all the way before winning 2 up in the encounter with Ailsa Brannock and Summer Elliott.
Seb Cave and Charlie Croker’s unbeaten run continued when they came up trumps in the final match of the morning – closing out their match on the 16th green.
Fuelled by the confidence of the morning games, England had the wind in their sails for the singles.
In the end it became a procession of points for the England team even though they were pushed all the way by a gutsy Scottish side. Special praise for Scotland’s Shiels Donegan who ended the championship as the only player with six points from six matches.
The glory, though, was all England’s.
Josh Hill, Amelia Wan, Reis Suart, Sophia Fullbrook, Joe Sykes, Rosie Bee Kim, Frazer Jones, Charlie Croker, Seb Cave and Isla McDonald O’Brien came up with victories.
Rymer and Yates came up with half points – Rymer’s half getting England over the line and taking her tally for the week to 5.5 out of 6.
Easterbrook ended his week with five out of six points, Croker took four from the four games he played and Cave ended the week unbeaten as England’s dominance at this age group continued.
Women and Men
England edged out Scotland 12-9 at Ballyliffin to move a step closer to glory in the Home Internationals.
After taking a 5-2 lead into the afternoon singles from the morning foursomes, the honours were even in the afternoon session.
Both sides took seven points apiece from the 14 singles games, but it was England who claimed overall victory following on from an opening day win against Wales.
Now it’s all down to the final day against Ireland with England well placed to approach the match with confidence.
It was another impressive performance in the morning session from the men’s and women’s team as they closed in on the potential of winning three titles.
Four wins and two halves from the seven matches was an excellent return and an omen for more successes in the afternoon singles.
The reliable partnership of Sam Bairstow and Arron Edwards-Hill stormed to a 6&4 win over experienced Scottish duo Calum Scott and Rory Franssen and set the tone for the session.
Another of the ‘old faithful’ groupings, Olly Huggins and John Gough, posted their customary point and Rebecca Earl and Maggie Whitehead enhanced their reputation as a team with a win against experienced duo Lorna McClymont and Carmen Griffiths.
Rachel Gourley and Lottie Woad – winners of the Sunningdale Foursomes earlier this year – halved their match with Jennifer Saxton and Chloe Goadby.
Olivia Lee justified her promotion from the girls’ squad by partnering English Under 25 champion Hannah Screen to a 2&1 win while Jack Bigham and Ben Quinney ended the morning with a half point.
In the afternoon games, the matches were hard fought with Lottie Woad and Rachel Gourley taking two points for the team. That also meant the women’s match finished level on 4.5-4.5.
For the men, Edwards-Hill, Huggins, Quinney and Josh Berry took full points with Bairstow and Jack Bigham earning half a point each.
That meant the men’s match (within the overall match) ended with England coming out on top by 7.5-4.5.
Just as in the boys and girls’ event, the men and women have a chance to win the overall and the individual titles with victory on the final day.
Photography: The R&A