It was with some aplomb that the Irish PGA team of Simon Thornton (Tulfarris), David Higgins(Waterville) and Mark Staunton(Delgany) emerged victorious by sixteen shots in the International Team Championships in Costa Navarino, Greece.
Leading by six shots overnight they hit the cruise control button and finished with an emphatic 16-shot victory thanks in no small part to Mark Staunton’s stunning bogey-free final round 64 (-7) which set the seal on a superb team effort by the PGA in Ireland representatives.
“It was an excellent few days. The resort was first class and the event was well run by the PGA’s of Europe,” said Galway born Staunton.
“It is great to have the honour of representing your country and even better to be able to win. The two lads (Thornton and Higgins) played great all week and on a personal note, it was nice to finish the week off strongly.”
The International Team Championship saw 21 teams from the PGAs of Europe’s member countries battling it out over 72 holes on Bernhard Langer designed The Dunes Course. The best two individual scores each day from the team of three counted towards the overall team score.
Ireland trailed Scotland by five shots at the close of play on day one but a second round five-under-par 66 from Simon Thornton helped to turn that deficit into a two-shot lead. Once ahead, Ireland put the foot down finishing day three with a six-shot advantage which they extended to a remarkable 16 shots by the end of play on day four.
“It was a great way to finish the season,” said David Higgins who got Ireland off to a solid start on day one with an opening round 68 (-3).
“It is a great honour to be selected to represent your country and to win while doing it is extra special.”
This is the third time Ireland has won the ITC. The last Irish team to win the title in 2008 featured John Kelly (St Margaret’s Golf &CC), Robert Giles (Greenore) and Eamonn Brady (Clontarf).
2017 International Team Championship
Final scores (after 72 holes)
1 Ireland -19
T2 Scotland -3
T2 Holland -3
4 Wales -2