The Continent of Europe lead Great Britain & Ireland 7.5 to 4.5 at the halfway stage of the 2023 Jacques Léglise Trophy in France.
The momentum went the visitors way in the opening hour of the morning foursomes matches at Golf de Chantilly, with the GB&I side going up in three of the four foursomes matches after the first few holes.
At the turn, it looked like the morning session could swing either way, with just one hole seperating all four matches on-course.In the fourth match, Tim Wiedemeyer (GER) and Peer Wernicke (GER) were one-down after eight holes against Niall Sheils Donegan (SCO) and Donnacha Cleary (IRL), but went onto win five of the next seven holes to put the first point of the day on the board for the home team.
Securing the first point of the day seemed to shift the momentum towards the European side, who went up in the other three matches down the closing stretch in the following minutes.
The French duo of Hugo Le Goff and Louis Anceaux won the 17th and 18th holes for a two hole win over the English pairing of Hugh Adams and Monty Holcombe, taking the overall match score to 2-0 in favour of the trophy-holders.Despite being one-down with two holes to play, recently crowned R&A Boys’ Amateur champion, Kris Kim (ENG) and team captain, Dylan Shaw Radford (ENG), turned their match around against the Spaniards, Jorge Siyuan Hao and Marcel Fonseca Aguilar, to put the first point of the day on the board for the visitors.
In the final match of the session still on-course, Filip Fahlberg-Johnsson (SWE) and Simon Hovdal (SWE) closed out a one hole victory over the Irish duo of Sean Keeling and Jack Murphy to ensure the the Continent of Europe went into the lunchtime break with the 3-1 advantage.
The momentum stayed in favour of the European side in the top singles matches in the afternoon. In the first match, Lev Grinberg (UKR) decisively swept aside Oliver Mukherjee (SCO), 7&6, to score the first ever point by a Ukrainian player in the history of the Jacques Léglise Trophy.Wernicke soon followed with a 5&4 victory of his own over Kim to take the score to 5-1 for the Continent of Europe.
Sheils Donegan stopped the bleeding for the GB&I side, defeating Anceaux 3&2 to put the first red point of the afternoon on the board.Although a birdie-eagle finish from Wiedemeyer to win by two holes against the GB&I captain and a 5&3 win from Hovdal extended the home teams score to 7-2.The closing matches of the day went in favour of the visitors with Cleary Keeling added two points to GB&I’s tally, while Adams and Fonseca Aguilar couldn’t be separated after 18 holes, leaving the halfway total at 7.5 to 4.5.
“I’m very satisfied, it was a good fight today” said Continent of Europe captain, Joachim Fourquet (FRA). “This morning was a bit better for us and this afternoon was very tight but I’m delighted with a three point lead”“I think the foursomes are a big strength for us. They’re used to playing together in the same nation, the French, Spanish, Germans and Swedish, so that’s something very helpful for the Continent of Europe.”
A former winner as a player in the match, Fourquet will have a chance to lead his team to a record-extending fourth straight victory as captain on Saturday, and plans to keep the same strategy for his team on day two.“It’s always the same thing, it’s still golf” said Fourquet. “Shot by shot and stay in the present. We won’t think about it too much, they’ll play the best they can and we’ll see.”
The GB&I team will have to overcome a three-point deficit to win the match for the first time since 2018.“We had a good start in the morning and just let a few key moments slip in the last few holes,” said GB&I playing captain, Dylan Shaw-Radford at the end of the day. “It was similar in the afternoon, but at times we were strong. The key tomorrow is just to play, I know all the lads in the team can play. We all agree that we hit one or two errant shots that cost us a few holes, so if we can get that sorted we’ll be okay tomorrow.”
As holders of the Jacques Léglise Trophy, the Continent of Europe team needs five points from the 13 remaining matches on Saturday to get their hands on the trophy for a fourth straight time.