Ryder Cup legend lauds amateur stars after their history-matching win at Halmstad GC
COLIN MONTGOMERIE has heaped praise on the Scottish side that won this year’s European Amateur Team Championship at Halmstad in Sweden, emulating the efforts of the former Ryder Cup captain and his teammates.
Monty, inset, was part of the Scots team that won the same title at the same venue in 1985 and he was delighted to see the latest crop of home-grown amateurs follow in the footsteps of he and the likes of Angus Moir, George MacGregor and Sandy Stephen.
“It’s super that 30 years later, the Scottish team on the very same course go and win,” said the 52-year-old.
“It was a fabulous win for the team and fabulous for Scottish golf and for Scottish amateur golf. I think the win can help take them forward.”
Scotland claimed their second victory in the prestigious event in the last six years by defeating Denmark 4½-2½ in the final, having earlier defeated England in the semi-finals.
The win was especially sweet for national coach Ian Rae, who has now steered four different Scottish sides to European glory.
“Our foursomes pairings this week have been fantastic,” he said. “We kept the same format right the way through, and all credit to the guys for seeing the job through in the singles in the final. Denmark are a very, very good team.”
The Scots started the final well, with Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson and Amateur Championship runner-up Grant Forrest surging to a four-up lead after nine holes against Morten Toft Hansen and Sixten Stemann Jensen, before claiming an emphatic 7&5 triumph.
Jack McDonald and Graeme Robertson, the former University of Stirling team-mates playing at their third European Amateur Team event, were made to work harder against Niklas Norgaard Moller and Peter Launer Baek before maintaining their winning streak. The Danes were one up after 12 holes, but the Scots duo turned it round to level after 15 before securing a 2&1 victory – their third straight foursomes victory in Sweden.
Up against it, Denmark came out all guns blazing in the singles with Philip Juel Berg soon racing to a 6&5 win over Thornhill’s Greig Marchbank, the hero for the Scots in their semi-final win against England. Martin Leth Simonsen levelled matters when he downed Ferguson 2&1.
However, McDonald stayed cool to see off the challenge of Toft Hansen on the 17th, winning 2&1, before Forrest turned around his match against Norgaard Moller, winning the final two holes.
Drumoig’s Connor Syme, on the day of his 20th birthday, was ahead in the final match, but amicably he and opponent Launer Baek settled for a halved match with the contest already over.
McDonald and Forrest were key players throughout the week, both winning five points from six in the matchplay stages.
Forrest said: “I didn’t know my putt was to win at the time, but it’s now a great feeling. It’s been a brilliant team performance this week.
“We have done well in the foursomes the last three days and coming in at 2-0 up in the final it could have been easy to get complacent. But we knew we all still had jobs to do and I just went out to try and win my match.”
Meantime, in the boys’ team event in Finland, Scotland lost out to England 3-2 in the battle for fifth place.