Zach in dreamland as England kick off with win over Wales

Zach Chegwidden admitted his England debut in the Home Internationals went like a dream after he overcame first tee nerves to play a starring role in the defeat of Wales.

England ran out comprehensive 10.5-4.5 winners on day one of the event at Hankley Common Golf Club in Surrey.

The team, led by non-playing captain Gareth Jenkins, will now face Scotland on day two and Ireland on Friday as the squad looks to defend the title won back in 2019 at Lahinch.

Chegwidden’s day was just about perfect – and made all the more special by the fact his grandad Dave (main image with Zach) was there to see him represent his country for the first time

The Essex golfer won his morning foursomes game alongside fellow debutant and Amateur Champion Laird Shepherd as England took the morning session 4-1.

Chegwidden then won his afternoon singles match by a thumping 5&4 margin as England ran out comfortable overall winners.

For Chegwidden, it was a day that couldn’t have been scripted any better.

“I couldn’t have had more of a dream start,” he confirmed.

“My grandad Dave came along to watch and walked as many holes as he could and that just added to how special the day was for me.

“He was here along with some friends and some guys who have helped me out with bits of sponsorship for clothing and I appreciate everyone being here to add their support.

“This morning I had a good partner in Laird Shepherd, the Amateur Champion, so that was cool.

“I hit the fairway on the first as well which always helps. But I have to say I was nervous.

“I lift my driver shaft up to get a line as part of my pre-shot routine and I could hardly get one as it was shaking about so much!

“I’m buzzing, though, with two points from two and I played pretty solidly all day – I can’t ask for much more.

“I’m looking forward to the second day now. It’s good to play Scotland at football, rugby or anything really. Now I’ll get the chance at golf.

“I know a few of the Scottish lads too so that should be a good laugh too.”

The morning session set the tone for the day with Walker Cup player Jack Dyer striking the first tee shot at 8am and then bringing home the first point in partnership with Arron Edwards-Hill.

The duo were never behind and were two under par when the match against their Welsh rivals ended on the 15th hole.

Sam Bairstow (pictured above) and Haider Hussain fired five birdies in their foursomes win while the pairing of English Amateur champion John Gough and Olly Huggins were four under par when they closed out their match with three holes to spare.

Chegwidden and Shepherd’s match went to the last, but a par four secured victory by two holes.

In the afternoon singles, England’s strength in depth showed as they took six and a half points out of 10 to seal the win.

There were individual triumphs for Bairstow, Huggins, Chegwidden, Gough, Shepherd and Jack Bigham.

Bigham,17, is bidding to win his second Home International series of the season having helped the boys’ and girls’ squad win their title at Woodhall Spa last month.

Team captain Jenkins, pictured below congratulating Gough after he won his singles match on the final hole, is thrilled with how his side came together on day one of the three-day round robin.

“It’s a team with experienced players, but it was strange to think that all 11 players today were representing England in this event for the first time,” said Jenkins.

“I only realised that when I presented England ties present to the players before the event.

“Because of COVID-19 this group have not had the chance to play Men’s Home Internationals before.

“But we have an Amateur champion in Laird, English Amateur champion in John and Sam won the Brabazon and has played in The Open so there’s no shortage of top level experience.

“I was pleased with how everyone came together as a team and how tight their short game was and how solidly they putted which you have to do in match play.

“It’s a good start to the week, but there’s a lot of hard work still to be done.”

 

  • Click here for full details on all England’s games from day one at the Home Internationals staged by The R&A.