The 2019 England v Spain international gets underway at Formby Golf Club tomorrow with the teams spurred on by good luck messages from Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Videos from the three Ryder Cup heroes were played at the opening ceremony, urging the teams to play their best and to make lasting friendships.
Rose and Garcia played in the same match in 1997, when other team mates included Luke Donald and Jose Manuel Lara. England won that year, 16.5-7.5, with Rose taking 3.5 points from a possible four, including a foursomes win over Garcia.
“I’m still good friends to this day with Sergio and Jose Manuel,” he said, then joked: “Enjoy it, but not too much. I don’t want to hear any Vamos! I want to hear lots of Come On!”
Garcia said: “I hope you have an amazing match, play some great golf, have fun with your team mates and opponents and for some of you thinking about turning pro, keep at it, stay patient and be confident.”
Olazabal won the Amateur Championship at Formby and he told the players: “Formby has a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories of this place.”
He went on: “I really believe playing this match will be a great learning experience for all of you and I hope you enjoy it as much as you can.”
The match started in 1985 as a men’s fixture with England leading Spain 14-2 by 2013. It became a mixed event in 2015 and England have won both matches played so far.
The teams are made up of six men and four women with four of the players ranked in the world top 50: Tom Sloman and Bel Wardle for England; and Victor Pastor and Eduard Rousaud for Spain.
The weather could be a crucial factor in the match, with strong winds forecast for tomorrow. As a result the singles will be played before the foursomes.
This year’s match is dedicated to the memory of Spain’s Celia Barquin Arizomena, who was murdered in the USA last year, shortly after winning the European Ladies’ Championship. This week, all the players and officials are wearing badges bearing her initials and a minute’s silence was observed at the opening ceremony.
Lily May Humphreys v Carla Tejedo
Emily Toy v Nieves Martin
Bel Wardle v Marta Garcia
Georgina Blackman v Oihana Etxezarreta
Tom Sloman v Sergio Parriego
Tom Plumb v Asier Aguirre
Ben Hutchinson v Victor Pastor
Ben Jones v Eduard Rousaud
Bailey Gill v Adrian Mata
Jake Burnage v Jorges Maicas
Caption: The Seve Ballesteros Trophy, awarded to the winners of the England v Spain match, is pictured at Formby Golf Club (Image copyright Leaderboard Photography).