England Golf has named a quartet of proven winners to defend the men’s title at the European Nations Championship at Sotogrande in Spain, from 5-8 March.
They are Ashley Chesters, the European champion; Ryan Evans, the newly crowned winner of Australia’s Lake Macquarie International; Matt Fitzpatrick, the US Amateur champion and world number one for 2013; and Garrick Porteous, the Amateur champion and a member of last year's winning side.
They will target England’s fifth win in this event in six years, having missed out on the title only in 2012.
Meanwhile, a trio of top women players will bid to win the ladies’ title for England for the first time. They are: Sarah-Jane Boyd, the English amateur champion; Gabriella Cowley, the runner-up in the recent Portugal amateur; and Annabel Dimmock, winner of the Jones-Doherty Cup in the USA.
The European Nations Championship is contested over 72 holes of stroke play, with the best three cards each day in the men’s event, and the best two in the women’s, counting towards the team event. An individual competition runs simultaneously with the Nations Championship.
Ashley Chesters, 24, (Hawkstone Park, Shropshire & Herefordshire) became the first English player to win the European amateur title since 2004 when he triumphed at El Prat in Spain in August. He finished eighth on the Titleist/FootJoy England Golf Order of Merit last year.
Ryan Evans, 26, (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire), carried his good form of 2013 into the New Year with victory in the Lake Macquarie International in Australia. During the trip down under he was also top qualifier in the Australian amateur. Last year he helped England regain the Home Internationals title and won the Berkshire Trophy, the Biarritz Cup in France and the Scrutton Jug for the best aggregate score from the Berkshire and Brabazon Trophies.
Matthew Fitzpatrick, 19, (Hallamshire, Yorkshire, image © Leaderboard Photography) became the first English winner of the US Amateur in 102 years when he triumphed at The Country Club, Brookline, last August. During 2013 he represented GB&I in the Walker Cup, won the silver medal as the leading amateur at The Open, and became the world’s number one amateur for the year. He was the 2012 Boys’ Amateur champion.
Garrick Porteous, 24, (Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland) won the 2013 Amateur championship at Royal Cinque Ports. He also won the Scottish stroke play championship, was runner-up in the Welsh stroke play and helped England win the European Men’s Team Championship in Denmark before being selected for the Walker Cup.
Sarah-Jane Boyd, 22, (Truro, Cornwall) is the reigning English amateur champion and was the 2012 winner of the British stroke play title, qualifying to play in last year’s Women’s British Open. She was the runner-up in the 2013 England Golf women’s order of merit.
Gabriella Cowley, 17, (Hanbury Manor, Hertfordshire) was the runner-up in the recent Portugal international ladies' amateur championship. She won the 2013 England Golf girls’ order of merit, a year when her achievements included qualifying for the Women’s British Open, winning the Critchley Salver and helping England to retain their crown at the Girls’ Home Internationals.
Annabel Dimmock, 17, (Wentworth, Surrey) has just completed a successful trip to the USA for the Orange Blossom Tour where she won the matchplay Jones-Doherty Cup and was runner-up in the South Atlantic women’s amateur. She was runner-up in the 2013 English girls’ championship and, like Gabriella, played in both the girls’ and ladies’ Home Internationals teams.