Rafiah Banday is hoping to extend her winning streak against Ireland when she competes for England in this weekend’s eagerly-anticipated Under-16 international challenge match.
The Surrey golfer is part of a 12-strong squad – six boys and six girls – to face Ireland over two days this weekend at Hunstanton GC in Norfolk.
Last year’s event at Limerick GC proved to be a runaway success for England as they secured a comprehensive 15.5-8.5 victory on away soil.
For Royal Mid-Surrey GC player Banday, though, the weekend proved to be especially sweet.
The talented 17-year-old swept to victory in all three of her matches – one foursomes, one fourball and a singles – to further enhance her growing reputation in junior circles.
She was one of only three players – Caitlyn Whitehead and Ben Schmidt were the others – to rack up three points from three.
Playing in a team alongside rising stars of the boys’ game – including Conor Gough and Schmidt – Banday looked at ease as she totted up a hat-trick of successes.
On the morning of day one she partnered Ellie Gower to a one hole victory over Irish opponents Beth Coulter and Anna Dawson.
Later that afternoon Banday was in tow with Daisy Kennedy as they brushed aside the threat from Lucia Masding and Katie Poots to win at the 14th.
Finally, Banday rounded off a terrific weekend with a comprehensive 5&4 singles triumph over Poots who must have been fed up at the sight of her formidable opponent.
Banday is very much looking forward to going head-to-head against Ireland in Norfolk this weekend as part of a team that continues to build for major team events in 2020.
“It was a good experience to play golf in Ireland last year – the conditions at Limerick were pretty wet but I played quite well to win my three games,” admitted the modest Banday.
“It’s a really different experience to play in match play events as most of the tournament we play as individuals are stroke play.
“I played against Spain Under 16s as well this year and it was really good – even though we didn’t win.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to keep your focus and not give up. Anything can happen in match play.
“I played a few match play events at my home club, but not so many.
“It seems strange as it’s all just golf – but stroke play and match play are two very different formats.
“In match play you can have a bad hole, pick up and move on. You can bounce back quickly and you have to learn not to get upset at one bad hole.
“The girls are all great and I’ve played with them in a number of events now and we’re all good friends.”
The focus for both the girls and the boys this weekend is to gain vital experience in team events and formats as they build towards the European Team Championships and Home Internationals in 2020 and beyond.
The Regional and National junior squads will also meet up for coaching over the winter months with one-to-one coaching and advice for the players forming part of a personal development plan.
Hugh Adams (Hagley GC and Worcestershire)
Jack Bigham (Harpenden GC and Hertfordshire.)
Josh Berry (Doncaster GC and Yorkshire)
Jack Ingham (Eindhovensche, Holland.)
Harley Smith (Rayleigh GC and Essex.)
Reis Suart (Welwyn Garden City GC and Hertfordshire.)
Rafiah Banday (Royal Mid Surrey GC and Surrey)
Libby Bell (Gosforth Park Ladies GC and Northumberland)
Louise Burke (Broadstone GC and Dorset)
Lydia Cryer (Nelson GC and Lancashire)
Rachel Gourley (Arcot Hall GC and Northumberland)
Lottie Woad (Farnham GC and Surrey)
Photograph credit: Leaderboard