Continent of Europe up by two over Britain-Ireland at St. Andrews Trophy

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PGA.com

Series:

The Continent of Europe took a 7-5 lead over Great Britain and Ireland on Friday after the first day of the 2010 St. Andrews Trophy Match, which is being played at Castelconturbia. The Continent had led by two points following the morning foursomes, and held onto that advantage after the eight points available from the afternoon singles were equally shared.

Scottish Amateur Champion Michael Stewart was defeated 4&2 by Nino Bertasio in the first of the singles encounters, giving the Continent a three-point advantage. But that would be short lived, as 2009 Boys Amateur Champion Tom Lewis defeated Germany’s Max Kieffer to bring the deficit back to two.

“The foursomes match was a bit disappointing, but my singles went well and I’m happy with the way I’m playing,” said the 19-year-old, who turned around a one-hole deficit after nine to win 3&2. “We’re only two points down, which is nothing when there’s 12 points on offer, so we’ve still got every chance of winning the match.”

In the third of the singles contests, France’s Romain Wattel, the highest-ranked player at the event, overcame the 2010 British Amateur runner-up, Scotland’s James Byrne, by 3&1.

“I played well this afternoon,” said the world No. 3, who, alongside fellow Frenchman Johann Lopez-Lazaro won his morning match against Tom Lewis and Laurie Canter by one hole. “I have beaten James [Byrne] twice now in two tries, so I’m pleased. But I’m more pleased that we have made a good start to the match. I hope we can carry on and win tomorrow.”

A 4&3 victory for Sweden’s Pontus Widegren over Laurie Canter of England was sandwiched between halved matches by Ireland’s Paul Cutler and Swede Jesper Kennegard, and by Matthew Nixon of England and Finland’s Kalle Samooja.

By the time Nixon and Samooja had walked off the 18th, Scotland’s Ross Kellett and Englishman Eddie Pepperell had won their respective matches against Johann Lopez-Lazaro of France and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen. Kellett, 22, won 5&4, while 19-year-old Pepperell prevailed 3&2.

“It was a difficult start to the morning, but the boys responded positively in the afternoon,” said GB&I’s non-playing Captain Nigel Edwards, himself a veteran of three successful GB&I St Andrews Trophy teams in 2002, 2004 and 2006. “We know we’re up against a talented group of individuals, but we have an equally talented, close-knit team who I know will give everything to ensure that we retain the Trophy tomorrow evening.”

The St. Andrews Trophy Match is played every other year, alternating with the Walker Cup. It is expected that several of the team representing GB&I in Italy will go on to do the same in the match against the USA at Royal Aberdeen in 2011. The two nine-man teams will play four morning foursomes matches and eight afternoon singles on each of the two days of competition.

GB&I arrived in Italy as the reigning champions, having triumphed 13 1/2 - 10 1/2 at Kingsbarns in 2008 for its fifth consecutive victory. The Continent of Europe’s most recent success came in 1998, when it won 14-10 at Golf Villa D’Este in the last St. Andrews Trophy Match to be held in Italy.

Originally laid out by Robert Trent Jones Sr, Castelconturbia has twice hosted the Italian Open, in 1991 and 1998. The course record of 66 is held jointly by Jose Maria Olazabal and Costantino Rocca. For both matches, the course will measure 6,883 yards and be played to a par of 72.