It’s neck and neck in England v France

Josh Hilleard

It’s neck and neck after the first day of the England v France international when the two teams tied 6-6 at Formby Golf Club, Lancashire.

France had the edge in the morning foursomes, winning 2½-1½, but England edged it in the singles when the host club’s Paul Kinnear halved his game for a 4½-3½ scoreline in the afternoon.

England captain Kevin Tucker commented: “We’ve got two good teams who are very evenly matched. It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable day’s golf, played in a great spirit, and the England lads did well to come back this afternoon. Now we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

French captain Fabrice Stolear added: “At one point in the afternoon it looked as if it would be pretty bad for us so we’re happy to get back and finish the day even.”

He has his eye on doing the double – having played in a winning team in this match at Sunningdale in 1996. In total the French have won this match only five times since it started in 1934 – twice in England; three times in France.

“Tomorrow we will have a great day,” he said. “It looks as if it will be tight and if we can make it, it will be very big for us.”

England’s top scorer today was Somerset’s Josh Hilleard (image © Leaderboard Photography), who won both his matches – teaming up with Scott Gregory in the morning before polishing off his singles 8/7. He was four under for the holes played and said: “I’ve had a wonderful day!”

Remarkably he lost the first hole, when his opponent holed a monster putt for birdie, but then he was off, helped by three consecutive birdies from the third and another on the 8th.

Alfie Plant, playing in the top game, had already claimed England’s first win of the afternoon. He didn’t get ahead until the 12th, but then he stayed in front before halving the long 17th in birdie to seal a 2/1 victory. “I’ve played solid all day, hitting fairways and greens,” he said.

Bradley Moore claimed his point against the long-hitting Edgar Catherine who reached the 558-yard third with a driver and a two-iron, and went through the green on the 312-yard fourth with his tee shot.

Despite that, Moore was two-up at the turn, having played the front nine in four-under, and he was four up with five to play. His lead was quickly reduced after he three-putted the 14th and his opponent birdied 15 and 16, but he held on well with a par on 17 before hitting two beautiful shots into the 18th where his putt was conceded.

Jamie Bower contributed England’s other point, getting ahead early in his match and staying there, helped by a couple of birdies. He signed off with a 2/1 win on the 17th.

Meanwhile, Scott Gregory looked as though he might pull off the most remarkable result. The Hampshire player, who played the front nine in one-over, was five down at the turn after his opponent went out in four under. However Gregory began to claw back the difference and by the 14th he had reduced the deficit to two holes, but was unable to make further inroads on the score. After the players halved 17 in birdie four, he bowed out 2/1 – having played level par golf, while his opponent was two-under. Ashton Turner and James Walker also lost by the same margin.

Tomorrow’s foursomes start at 9am. Spectators are very welcome.

Click here for full scores