By: David Birtill
Southport’s Sean Towndrow was one of the stars as England scored a convincing 19-11 win over Spain to regain the Seve Ballesteros Trophy at the end of the two-day mixed international at Burnham & Berrow.
The Southport and Ainsdale man was in front throughout his match and his highlights included driving the 370-yard third hole, with his ball finishing about 8ft from the cup – and he wasn’t required to putt.
And West Lancs youngster Hollie Muse contributed to the victory
The team built on Saturday’s four-point lead with a steady foursomes performance – sharing the morning points – and a runaway success in the singles, winning six of the matches and halving two more.
The result extends England’s outstanding record in the biennial match, which started in 1985. The team lost last time – at El Prat in 2013 – but in total now have 14 victories to Spain’s two – and have never been beaten at home.
“It’s a fantastic result,” said Graham Walker, the England men’s captain. “The welcome we have received from the members and staff at Burnham and Berrow, has really played a part because it has made it feel like a real home venue.”
This is the first time that women have been included in the team and they certainly played their part. Gemma Clews, like Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen, won all four of her matches and in the final day’s singles the women won 2½ matches out of a possible four.
Steve Robinson, the women’s captain, said: “I am really proud of how they have worked this week, how they have risen to the challenge of playing what, on paper, was a very, very strong Spanish women’s team. Every player has played their part this week.
“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of coaching a small group of players at a venue like this and I feel it’s been massively beneficial to the women’s squad to have been invited to play in this match.”
The day began in relatively calm conditions and England produced a fighting performance to share the foursomes, thanks to a last gasp half from the final pair, Nick Marsh and Michael Saunders, who had been three down after 12 holes but managed to halve their game.
England’s two wins were provided by Gemma Clews and Hollie Muse; and by Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen, who set off at high speed, with five birdies in the first eight holes and who won on the 14th.
In the afternoon, with the wind steadily strengthening, the Spanish started strongly in the women’s games and were ahead in three of the four until the turn. Nuria Iturrios, playing in the first match against Alice Hewson, provided one of the talking points of the afternoon when she drove the 369-yard second hole and sank a 6ft putt for eagle.
However, Gemma Clews was always in front and put England’s first point on the board; Bethan Popel turned the tide in her match to win; and Alice Hewson steadily pulled back from two down after 12 to halve her game.
Jimmy Mullen was the first of the England men to claim his point with a comprehensive 6/4 win which resulted from immaculate play: just one bogey, two birdies and a string of pars. Ashton Turner was another big winner, with a 5/3 result, which included a magical spell of scoring: 3, 3, 2 or birdie, eagle, birdie from the third hole.
Ashley Chesters, the double European Champion, trailed by two holes towards the turn, but he was back on level terms with a birdie on 10 and a par on 11. He got ahead for the first time with a par on the 15th and held on to the slender advantage to win one up.
Nick Marsh was also battling. He was two down after eight holes, despite being one-under par – and then lost the 10th to a birdie to go three down. However, he steadily pulled his way back, helped by a birdie on the par three 14th, and was all square after 16. Both players parred the 17th and, after adventurous progress down the 18th which included deep rough and a bunker, they shared the hole for a sporting half.
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