The Continent of Europe continued its dominance of the Vagliano and Junior Vagliano trophies by winning the senior and junior international matches against Great Britain and Ireland at Royal Dornoch.
GB&I is now without a win in the Vagliano Trophy since 2005 following today’s 13½-10½ defeat, while the junior team fell just short of securing its first win in the Junior Vagliano Trophy after the match finished tied at 9-9.
A combination of Spanish, German, Belgian and Swedish women gave the Continent of Europe captain Ane Urchegui Garcia victory as she led the senior team for the first time.
“I’m so happy,” Urchegui Garcia said after Germany’s Helen Briem earned the winning point, taking her side to the required 12½ points with a 2&1 singles victory over Caley McGinty.
“I feel very proud of the players. This was a very tough match to play and I want to congratulate Great Britain and Ireland captain Maria Dunne because her team played great golf.”
GB&I won the morning foursomes 2½-1½ to level the contest at eight points apiece with eight singles left to play. Strong winds and driving rain should have favoured the home side on a traditional links, but the anticipated tense finish turned into something of a damp squib thanks to the excellent play of the Continent of Europe.
Two of the first three singles sessions went GB&I’s way with England’s Lottie Woad defeating Savannah de Bock of Belgium 2&1 and Aine Donegan beating world number one Ingrid Lindblad by the same score after a halve in the lead match between Ireland’s Beth Coulter and Rocio Tejedo of Spain. Those were the only GB&I wins in the singles before the bottom five players in Urchegui Garcia’s order reeled off victories.
“My team was very nervous after losing the morning foursomes but they were determined to go out and fight and they did,” Urchegui Garcia added. “I didn’t have to say anything to them at lunchtime to try to inspire them. They were doing that on their own. They were cheering each other on because there was such a spirit in my team. They all played for each other and inspired each other to this victory.”
GB&I captain Dunne took heart from winning the morning foursomes, hoping her team would kick to victory.
“I’m gutted for my players,” said Dunne. “We gave it our all. I asked them to fight for every point. They did and I couldn’t really have asked for anything more from them.
“They fought hard to level the match after this morning’s foursomes but we just came up short. On another day the result would have gone our way but we can do ourselves proud because it was so close. The European team was just stronger on the day. They were better putters than us this afternoon, and that was obvious over the two days. We can be proud of ourselves for the way we fought.”
Briem was one of three players on the Continent of Europe team to record three points out of four along with Spain’s Cayetana Fernández García-Poggio and Meja Ortengren of Sweden. Only Woad on the GB&I team managed that feat.
There was a modicum of consolation for GB&I in that the Junior Vagliano Trophy finished level on nine points apiece. However, it meant that the Continent of Europe secured the trophy for the eighth straight time having never lost since the inaugural 2011 match.
“It says a lot about the strength of junior golf on the Continent of Europe,” said Continent of Europe captain Myrte Eikenaar, who was skippering the junior team for the third straight occasion.
“It says a lot about the girls that we’ve kept the trophy. They’re not just great golfers but they bring a lot of energy to the team, and it’s great that in a few days they can become so tightknit and fight for each other.
“It’s good to see that GB&I keeps drawing closer. Every year it gets tighter and that’s good for the match. I’d love to have gotten the win because it always feels better, but it’s great to retain the trophy and I’m proud of the girls.”
Irish pair Costello and Dillon deserve special mention. They earned three and a half point each out of a possible four. Germany’s Sofia Maier-Borst was top points earner for the Continent of Europe. Costello and Dillon will be looking to graduate to the senior team in two years’ time, hoping to help a GB&I team finally get that elusive pot of gold.