Stunning Home Internationals victory at Conwy bridges nine-year gap since last triumph
Scott Knowles has heaped praise on his young charges after seeing them claim the Boys Home Internationals title for the first time since 2006 at Conwy Golf Club in Wales.
The Scots won all three of their matches in the annual quadrangular tournament to deny pre-tournament favourites and defending champions England what would have been a fourth win in five years.
After opening with a 10-5 win over 2013 champions Ireland, Scotland then defeated hosts Wales 9½-5½. That set up a title showdown with Derek Hughes’ England side, who had earlier defeated Wales 10½-4½ and Ireland 8½-6½.
Nothing could separate the sides after the opening foursomes session, with honours even at 2½-2½, but the Scots were utterly dominant in the afternoon singles, winning seven of the ten matches to take the title, much to the delight of captain Knowles.
“I’m speechless,” he said. “It was an absolutely fantastic performance from the boys. We looked to be down and out at one stage in the foursomes but somehow turned it around to go in 2½-2½ at lunch.
“In the singles, the boys came out firing in one of the best performances at boys level I have seen. The standard of golf was extremely high throughout all ten matches.
“The entire team have been great all week, great team spirit and they all supported each other very well.”
Knowles’ English counterpart was magnanimous in defeat. “Scotland were very good and deserving winners,” he said. “They didn’t give us an inch. At one stage, it looked like we were going to do well in the foursomes but they came back at us.
“We didn’t give it away, they took it away. I feel sorry for the boys because they did their best, it just didn’t work out this week.”
The singles matches were full of drama. Cawder’s Calum Fyfe laid down a strong marker in the top match with his hard earned 2&1 win over Marco Penge, England’s leading player and a three-time winner this season.
The top match, however, had to allow two other matches to play through after Fyfe cut his finger on thorns when picking up his ball from the rough. After some medical attention, he returned to his match and showed no ill-effects, making three consecutive birdies from the 13th before closing out the match on the 17th.
Sandy Scott, below right, quickly followed Fyfe into the winner’s enclosure, with his convincing 4&2 win over England’s William Enefer, who started the final day as the only player with a 100% win record.
Darren Howie, whose brother Craig is in the senior Scotland side, struck another blow for Scotland with his 2&1 win over Jamie Li.
After that excellent start, it was critical for Scotland’s title hopes that the players at the bottom end of the order produced the goods to see them over the line - and they didn’t disappoint, winning four of the last five matches on the course.
When Andrew Thomson closed out his one-hole win against Toby Briggs, Scotland knew mathematically they had won. Confirmation soon followed when Chris Curran, two-up against Rhys Nevin-Wharton with two to play, won 2&1 and Scottish celebrations began in earnest behind the 17th green.
Earlier in the day Ireland managed to sign off with a 9-6 win over Wales but failed to hit the heights of their win at Forest Pines in England two years ago.
The sides also went into the singles level after sharing the foursomes session 2½-2½ and for a large part of the afternoon the match could have swung either way.
Ireland’s Thomas Mulligan had another tough battle that went the distance before winning the top match against Tom Williams by one hole. The advantage was quickly cancelled as Ben Chamberlain recorded his third singles win of the week with a two-hole victory over Kevin LeBlanc.
Ireland edged closer to victory when Rory Williamson birdied the par-3 15th from ten feet but was followed in by Aled Greville before the Holywood golfer closed out the match at the next to win 4&2.
That left Peter Kerr to secure the decisive point for Ireland when he defeated Wales’ Matthew Harris 4&3 in the bottom
Next year’s Boys Home Internationals will take place in Ireland at Ballyliffin Golf Club’s (Glashedy Links) from August 4-6.