Europe aiming for a five-in-a-row in Vagliano Trophy
IT was drama to the end at Malone yesterday as the Continent of Europe are aiming for a five-in-a-row of victories in the bi-annual Vagliano Trophy tournament.
This morning the holders sit a slender one point ahead of the battling Great Britain & Ireland team that was unlucky not to snatch a draw.
The challengers, with Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey leading the line, opened smartly and went for lunch level with the opposition at two points each.
Throughout the afternoon singles fortunes ebbed and flowed but Cavan girl Maguire again gave the home side the lead with a 2&1 win in the top singles.
England's Bronte Law produced the same result but down the line things looked serious for GB&I as Europe were up in the next four matches.
Things kept changing, however, and, as the day progressed, GB&I fought bravely back while, in the anchor role, Mehaffey was having a terrific battle with Sweden's Linnea Strom, who beat her in the semi-finals of the British Championship, at Portstewart.
Leona Maguire and Mehaffey were paired together in the foursomes and Olivia revealed that was a tremendous help to her.
“It was nice to have an Irish girl alongside on my debut. I was a bit nervous before the match but Leona is a calming influence and we were delighted to give the team a good start to the competition with a 3&2 win,” enthused the Royal County Down teenager.
They beat Maguire's Duke College colleague Celine Boutier and her French compatriot Justine Dreher by three and two.
It was just before the turn that the winning pair made their surge for victory. They birdied seven, halved eight and birdied nine to go two up and then turned the screw with another winning birdie at 11 to be three holes in front heading for home. The 13th, 14th and 15th holes were halved to end the match at three and two, the only foursome that didn't go to the last green.
Leona was the leader once again in the singles, playing her college colleague Boutier which she overcame by two and one.
“I played really well, putted well and had only one bogey. I got a good start with birdies at the third and sixth holes but the key to my win was at the 13th where I was behind a big tree and had to play out around it. I got a half and then birdied the 16th from 15 feet to be dormie. We halved the 17th in birdies to end the match,” explained Leona.
Spaniard Luna Sobron, Noemi Jimenez-Martin and Nuria Iturrios plus Switzerland's Albane Valenzuela and Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom all won for Europe, leaving it 4-2 but English Australian-based Charlotte Thomas won by two holes.
Meanwhile, Mehaffey and Sweden's Linnea Strom were renewing their acquaintance after the latter beat Olivia in the British semi-finals, at Portstewart, and the fortunes swayed continuously. Mehaffey was two up after 13 but lost 14 and 16. It stayed all square until the last where Mehaffey rifled a seven iron to 10 feet but her birdied putt bounced out and Storm sank her putt for par and a half.
“I'm pleased I didn't lose in either of the two matches,” smiled the Tandragee girl.
In the Junior Vagliano Trophy, the Irish were again to the fore in the morning foursomes which GB&I won 2-1. Lurgan's Annabel Wilson and Killarney's Mairead Martin scorched to an easy 5&4 win over Isabella Holpfer (Austria) and Mathilde Claisse (France) to wipe out a one hole win in the top match for Europe.
The trail dried up, however, in the afternoon, as Europe won five of the six singles for a 6-3 overnight lead.
Vagliano Trophy at Malone
Great Britain & Ireland names first: Foursomes - GB&I 2, Continent of Europe 2.
L Maguire (Slieve Russell) & O Mehaffey (RCDL) bt C Boutier & J Dreher (France) 3&2; B Law (Bramhall) & C Williams (Wrexham) lost to N Jimenez-Martin & L Sobron (Spain) 2 holes; M MacLaren (Wellingborough) & A Hewson (Berkhamstead) bt A Valenzuela (Switzerland) & N Iturrios (Spain) 2 holes; H Davis (Ferndown) & C Thomas (Moonah Links, Australia) lost to L Strom & M Sagstrom (both Sweden) 2 holes.
Singles – GB&I 3.5, Continent of Europe 4.5
Maguire bt Boutier 2&1; Law bt Cowan 2&1; Davis lost to Sobron 4&2; Hewson lost to Jimenez-Martin 3&1; Clews lost to Iturrois 3&1; Williams lost to Valenzuela 3&2; Thomas bt Sagstrom 2 holes; Mehaffey halved with Strom.
Day One Result – GB&I 5. 5, Continent of Europe 6.5
Junior Vagliano Trophy:
Foursomes – GB&I 2, Continent of Europe 1.
H Muse (West Lancs) & S McWilliam (Aboyne) lost to A Laisne (France) & F Kinhult (Sweden) 1 hole; M Martin (Killarney) and A Wilson (Lurgan) bt I Holpfer (Austria) & M Claisse (France) 5&4; E Price (Cleobury Mortimer) & H MacGarvie (Troon Ladies) bt E Spitz (Austria) & J Engstrom (Sweden) 1 hole.
Singles – GB&1 1, Continent of Europe 5
McWilliams lost to Lasine 2 holes; Price lost to Kinhult 5&4; MacGarvie bt Holpfer 2&1; Martin lost to Classie 4&3; Wilson lost to Spitz 3&2; Muse lost to Engstrom 2&1.
Day One Result – GB&I 3, Continent of Europe 3.
Meanwhile, it was an all-southern decider at Royal County Down in the final of the Ulster Girls' Open Championship with Clodagh Jones from Roscrea causing a mild upset by besting Forrest Little experienced player Julie McCarthy.
The Championship was played on the Annesley Course at Newcastle and Jones edged a close victory of just one hole. Indeed, it was a total souther day in the championship as the winner overcame Lisa O'Shea from Shannon, also by one hole, while McCarthy defeated Eleanor Metcalfe (Laytown & Bettystown) by 3&2.
Ulster Girls' Championship
Final - C Jones (Roscrea) bt J McCarthy (Forrest Little) one hole.
Semi-finals - Eleanor Metcalfe (Laytown & Bettystown) lost to Julie McCarthy (Forrest Little) 3&2;Lisa O'Shea (Shannon) lost to Clodagh Jones (Roscrea) 1up