Phelan and team-mates stay tough for position of strength
ST ANDREWS AND JACQUES LÉGLISE TROPHIES:AS A student of psychology, Kevin Phelan is aware of the importance of fighting to the end. There is no such thing as a lost cause. Yesterday, the 21-year-old Waterfordman – and those team-mates positioned towards the bottom order of singles – put theory into practice in staying tough to the death, as Great Britain and Ireland transformed a seemingly fragile position into one of strength.
In finishing the first day’s play in the St Andrews Trophy over the famed old course at Portmarnock with a 7-5 lead, Nigel Edwards’s team took an important first step towards reclaiming a trophy relinquished in Italy two years ago.
“There’s a lot of fight in this team,” said Edwards, although that ability to tough it out was best exemplified by the manner in which two Englishmen and an Irishmen at the tail-end of proceedings brought home the final three points.
Neil Raymond closed out his match with Marcel Schneider on the 17th and his compatriot Ben Taylor took the scalp of Robert Karlsson on the 18th.
Sandwiched in between, Phelan – a collegiate player out of the University of North Florida – showed grit and an exemplary short game in getting up and down on the 16th hole from 20 yards, the 17th from 50 yards and from 20 yards on the 18th to doggedly see off German Moritz Lampert for a one-hole win.
On a day when the wind combined with some tight pin placements to ask serious questions of the players, GBI took the advantage in the St Andrews Trophy match while, indicative of the competitive nature of these international matches, it was the mirror opposite in the boys’ Jacques Léglise Trophy where the Continent of Europe forged a 7-5 lead over the home side.
For sure, the old links contrived to mix wonder – such as Gavin Moynihan’s exquisite chip-in for birdie on the 17th in a compelling top singles match with Mathias Schwab – with angst, epitomised by Alan Dunbar’s opening drive into the estuary to the right of the first hole. For all that, there was more good than bad and the respective first-day advantages were hard-earned.
For a long time, it looked as if the continentals would finish up with the lead in both the St Andrews and the Léglise.
In the boys’ event, Europe earned a 2½ to 1½ lead from the morning foursomes where the all-Irish, all-Dublin pairing of Moynihan and Alex Gleeson had won by 5 and 4 over Kenny Subregis and Romain Langasque.
In the singles, Max Orrin, Ashton Turner and Matt Fitzpatrick secured impressive wins whilst Moynihan, who was two down after two holes against the highly-rated Schwab, managed to get what could yet prove to be a vital half-point.
In a match that was nip-and-tuck for much of the back nine, with Schwab moving one up on the par-three 15th where Moynihan’s five-iron tee shot found heavy rough and his recovery landed in a greenside bunker, the Irish Amateur Open champion from The Island chipped in for birdie on the 17th to get back all-square.
“It was probably the best chip I’ve ever had. I fancied it straight away,” he said, of a lie that was sitting up in the rough over the back of the green and which enabled him to get some spin and track it towards and into the hole.