England Claim Day One Home Internationals Win / Play Suspended
England stayed on course for a fourth straight success in the Home Internationals, as torrential rain saw play suspended on the opening day at Gailes Links.
The English claimed a 9.5-5.5 win over Wales to illustrate their intentions, but the Ireland-Scotland match was left in the balance for the day as the heavens opened.
The players from the four home unions had played in glorious sunshine, only for the forecast rain to arrive on schedule shortly before 4.30pm. It refused to let up and the klaxon sounded at 6pm to bring the remaining matches from the course.
After discussion among the team captains, play was called off with the rain unrelenting. Scotland lead 5.5-4.5 overall, but it is the Irish who have the upper hand in the remaining five matches still to be decided. The Irish are up in four and all square in the other.
Play will now resume tomorrow morning at 7am to complete the day one matches, with the scheduled day two action to begin at 9am – a delay of an hour-and-a-half.
In an engrossing, incredibly tight tussle with Ireland, the Scots established a 3.5-1.5 lead after the morning foursomes.
The Amateur champion, Alan Dunbar, and partner Reeve Whitson paired up in the top match to defeat newly-crowned Scottish Amateur winner Grant Forrest and Paul Shields. But the Scots hit back with wins for Graeme Robertson and Jack McDonald, the University of Stirling duo, plus Matthew Clark and Ross Bell and Brian Soutar and James White.
Robertson continued his form to come back in the top singles match and gain revenge over Dunbar with a 2&1 win, with Kirkhill’s Shields also claiming a victory. But Richard O’Donovan, Whitson and Gary Hurley saw off Clark, Paul Ferrier and Forrest respectively to spark the Irish revival.
Of the remaining games, McDonald and Harry Diamond are locked all square on the 18th green with McDonald having played a shot less. Ireland have the edge in the bottom four matches and the Scots will need a fast start tomorrow to turnaround their fortunes.
“We are certainly not down and out,” said Scott Knowles, the Scottish team captain. “A lot of matches changed hands today, which was a combination of good golf and the weather. It's still all to play for."
Meanwhile, England captain Terry Casey, the father of Paul, was pleased with his side’s display, finishing just before the rain arrived. After winning the foursomes 4-1 this morning, England started strongly in the singles and looked set for a sizeable win only for the Welsh to rally.
New European Amateur champion Rhys Pugh defeated Harry Ellis, the 16-year-old new English Amateur winner, but wins for the likes of Neil Raymond, Garrick Porteous and Nathan Kimsey saw Casey’s charges home.
“We were wonderful this morning. A couple of sound performances gave us crucial early wins and gave us momentum,” he said. “There are things to improve on as the afternoon was tough. It looked like we might walk away with it but, as always, there is a big swing in the middle of the day and we had to work hard.”
* Jack McDonald, meanwhile, has secured an invitation to next week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on The European Tour.
After playing all four rounds at The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, McDonald of Kilmarnock (Barassie) will hope to again shine on the big stage in Perthshire.
The 19-year-old will play at Gleneagles by virtue of being the leading Scot on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.