The Irish team will face the European Women team in the last eight of the GolfSixes after winning their group on Saturday.*
Ireland's Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan eagled the third and birdied the fourth in a winner takes all 2-0 win over the Italian team of Edoardo Molinari and Renato Paratore. In the first session they beat the Scotland team of Richie Ramsey and Scott Jamieson 3-0, but lost to France 2-1 in the second session. France however lost 3-0 to Italy to drop to second.
But if the second edition of competition was intended as a light-hearted ‘Battle of the Sexes’, there was only one winner on the opening day at the Centurion Club.
Rank outsiders before the start, both the England Women's team of Charley Hull and Georgia Hall and the European Women's Team of Mel Reid and Carlota Ciganda advanced to the quarter-finals of the six-hole match play event, which played out in perfect conditions in front of a crowd of more than 4,000.
And Solheim Cup team-mates Reid and Ciganda did so in thrilling fashion, defeating Thailand 3-0 in their final group game and then beating defending champions Denmark on the first hole of a sudden death play-off after the teams finished level on points and number of holes won.
Hall had earlier holed from 20 feet for an eagle on the final hole to secure a 1-1 draw with the England Men’s team of Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace, Pepperell having hit a stunning approach to three feet on the par five.
Hall and Hull then thrashed South Africa’s George Coetzee and Haydn Porteous 4-1 and although a last-hole eagle from the Swedish pair of Alexander Bjork and Joakim Lagergren left the two teams tied on four points, the English duo advanced by virtue of having won more holes.
“It’s huge for women’s golf,” Reid said. “I have absolute faith in our partnership and we would have been disappointed not to get through to Sunday and my sister would have killed me because she only just arrived.
“This is a huge opportunity to showcase women’s golf. We don’t get the coverage and we don’t get as supported as I feel like we should and an event like this is huge for us.”
Reid and Ciganda will face Australia’s Wade Ormsby and Sam Brazel in the last eight, while Hull and Hall take on the Irish pair of Dunne and Moynihan, who finished top of Group C.
“It’s really cool to go through, I don’t think a lot of people thought we would do that well,” said Hull, whose stunning tee shot on the opening hole had prompted Pepperell and Wallace to jokingly make a run for the exit.
“I feel more nervous in this event. I think it’s because if you play bad it would make women’s golf look bad.”
Pepperell and Wallace admitted they were happy to avoid defeat to Hull and Hall before drawing with Sweden and beating South Africa to set up a quarter-final against France.
“We had a good, tough match with the girls and are just relieved to not lose that,” Pepperell said. “In the second game we played a bit scrappy at the end but we really wanted to be here tomorrow, so now that we are it’s going to be great.
“Every time someone [in the crowd] has been asked who is their favourite golfer, all I keep hearing is Georgia or Charley, so hopefully by the end of tomorrow they will be saying Matt, because he’s my favourite golfer!”
The remaining quarter-final will see Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee take on Soomin Lee and Jeunghun Wang of Korea.
*Golf Sixes explainer: Sixteen teams compete over six holes of greensomes match play, where both players tee off on each hole, then choose the best tee shot and take alternate shots from then on.