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England beat Spain at Formby

ENGLAND staged a confident performance to beat Spain 13-7 in the mixed international at Formby Golf Club and keep their firm grip on the Seve Ballesteros Trophy.

They held a one-point advantage going into the second day’s round of matches and quickly built on that with a 4-1 win in the foursomes before taking six of the 10 singles.

Ben Jones scored the winning point when he holed a 35ft birdie putt to clinch his match 3&2.

A delighted winner said: “It’s always nice to do, but as long as the team wins it doesn’t matter who takes us over the line. For the team to win is always great!”

Presbury Golf Club’s Bel Wardle was one of the stars of the event, winning all three of her matches.

The match started in 1985 as a men’s fixture with England leading Spain 14-2 by 2013. It became a mixed event in 2015 and England have now won the three matches played so far.

The event began in the most challenging of conditions with winds gusting around 50mph leading to the cancellation of the opening singles matches.

England Golf performance director Nigel Edwards had praise for his players’ attitude when the going got tough.

“Conditions were extremely difficult but the attitude they showed paved the way for today’s play, which was really good,” he said. “The players really showed what they can do when the conditions are more favourable.”

After the first foursomes session England led 3-2 but extended that to 7-3 second time round. The team made quick work of the singles, knowing they needed just 3.5 points to retain the trophy.

Tom Plumb was first to score, notching up five birdies as he won 3&2.

He said: “We had a great foursomes and a good lead, so we all wanted to get some points on the board early. Everyone wants to win!”

Ben Hutchinson followed him almost immediately, scoring 5&4 on his debut at this level and defeating Spain’s best-ranked player, Victor Pastor.

“It’s my first experience and it’s been good, especially to get the win,” he said.

Bailey Gill took England to within touching distance of victory when he won 5&3, playing nicely under par.

He reflected: “It’s so nice to be in your own country, representing your country. It’s something I always wanted to do so I was really happy to be picked for this.”

His result left the way clear for Jones to clinch the victory. But the team wasn’t finished. Lily May Humphreys had seven birdies in her round as she worked her way to a 5&3 win, finishing off with an impressive up and down from a steep sandhill beside the green.

Cheshire’s Bel Wardle completed the scoreline with a strong finish, winning holes 15 and 16 to set up a 2&1 victory. The 19-year-old won all three of her games this weekend, as did Jones and Gill.

Edwards added: “This is a new team and irrespective of whether they won their individual matches or not, they will have a learned a lot about themselves and international golf and will reflect on how to push on to gain further international honours and hopefully, individual success.”

Photo caption: The winning England team, from left, Ben Jones, Bailey Gill, Emily Toy, Tom Sloman, Georgina Blackman, Tom Plumb, Bel Wardle, Jake Burnage, Lily May Humphreys, Ben Hutchinson. (Image copyright Leaderboard Photography).