Irish duo Robin Dawson and Conor Purcell were both victorious in the singles yesterday afternoon to help Great Britain and Ireland open up a 7-5 lead over the Continent of Europe in the St Andrews Trophy.
There was nothing to separate the two sides after the morning foursomes as they were deadlocked at 2-2 at Linna Golf in Finland. Craig Watson’s side then pressed on in the afternoon, winning five of the eight singles contests and means they now require 5½ points today to retain the trophy.
“The team played very well,” said captain Watson. “It’s only half-time, the job is only half done. There was a lot of good golf on display on a fantastic golf course. The match will be determined by putting and it all comes down to that. There’s not much difference between the teams, we just managed to hole more putts. Everybody contributed and I don’t think there will be any changes for tomorrow.
It would be good to build a lead in the morning foursomes before we play the final singles matches.
In the foursomes, Tramore’s Flogas Irish Amateur Open Dawson and Kinsale’s John Murphy were defeated 2&1 by Matias Honkala and Sami Valimaki — who sealed the win with vital birdies on the 15th and 17th holes.
Portmarnock man Purcell and David Hague were beaten on the final green by Lorenzo Filippo Scalise and Stefano Mazzoli.
But a 4&3 victory for Mitch Waite and Nick Poppleton over Frederic Lacroix and Edgar Catherine and a one-hole victory for Matthew Jordan and Gian-Marco Petrozzi over Angel Hidalgo Portillo and Fredrik Nilehn ensured it would be all square heading into the afternoon.
Europe secured the first point in the singles with Irishman Murphy on the wrong end of a comprehensive 6&5 defeat against Lacroix. The Frenchman went on a run of four consecutive birdies from the ninth hole before closing out the contest on the 13th after the Irishman could only manage a bogey.
GB&I responded by picking up the next two points following wins for Dawson (one hole) and Jordan (3&1) over Marc Hammer and Valimaki respectively. Petrozzi and Purcell strengthened the advantage when they both secured 4&3 results against Scalise and Catherine.
Sweden’s Nilehn and Finland’s Honkala, who holds the course record at Linna Golf (64), pulled the hosts back into the match with narrow wins over Todd Clements and Waite but Hague restored the margin to two points after beating Hidalgo Portillo in the last match.
The sides will contest another four foursomes this morning as well as an extra singles match — nine in total — which was added in 2016.
GB&I are bidding to win the biennial competition for the third straight time. Two years ago a 12½-12½ tie at Prince’s in Kent saw them retain the title they won in Sweden back in 2014.