Continent of Europe leads Britain and Ireland by 2 points in Vagliano Trophy

Ireland's Julie McCarthy in action in The Vagliano Trophy. Credit: The R&A.

The Continent of Europe holds a slender 7-5 lead over Britain and Ireland after day one of The Vagliano Trophy at Royal St George’s in England, with Ireland’s Julie McCarthy defeating World Number 3 Frida Kinhult by 3&1.

Chasing a seventh straight win in the biennial contest, the visitors secured a 3-1 lead after the morning foursomes matches over the renowned Kent links.

In the blustery and warm conditions, Britain and Ireland quickly sparked an afternoon fightback with an impressive 7&6 singles victory for Scotland’s Hazel MacGarvie against Girls Amateur champion Emma Spitz.

However, the Continent of Europe managed to half the session 4-4 and go into Saturday’s final day with the two-point lead as they seek to retain the trophy they last won in Italy in 2017.

There were convincing singles victories for the Continent of Europe pair Leonie Harm and Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, defeating Isobel Wardle and Shannon McWilliam in respective 6&5 triumphs.

Britain and Ireland, who last lifted The Vagliano Trophy in 2005, fought back as Alice Hewson defeated Alessia Nobilio 3&1. Ireland’s Julie McCarthy then secured a notable 3&1 success against the top-ranked player in the match, Swede Frida Kinhult, who sits 3rd on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

With Emily Toy, the new Women’s Amateur champion, beating Caterina Don by two holes, Britain and Ireland’s hopes were further raised, but a superb eagle at the final hole, holing from 12 feet at the par-5, saw Linn Grant win a fantastic match against Lily May Humphreys. Albane Valenzuela claimed the final point of the day after beating Annabell Fuller 2&1.

Earlier, for the opening foursomes, the Swedish pair of Kinhult and Grant lost the opening hole to Humphreys and Hewson before exerting their authority with three wins from the 9th hole to go on and claim a 4&3 win. Don and Nobilio achieved an even more emphatic success for the Continent of Europe, beating Fuller and McCarthy 6&5.

Toy and English compatriot Wardle offered optimism for Britain and Ireland when they led Harm and Spitz by one hole after the 6th. However, Austria’s Spitz rolled in a 25-foot putt on the 16th to secure a 3&2 victory and give the Continent of Europe a 3-0 cushion.

The Scottish duo McWilliam and MacGarvie refused to be denied in the bottom match, putting the first point on the board for the home side with a one-hole win over Valenzuela and Roussin-Bouchard.

In the Junior Vagliano Trophy, the Under-16’s version of the competition, Britain and Ireland hold a 5-4 lead – helped by two wins from Ireland’s Beth Coulter.

After the Continent of Europe won the foursomes 2-1 in the six-a-side match, the hosts hit back in the singles, with victories from Coulter, Hannah Darling and Darcey Harry.

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