Ireland failed to stage the miraculous recovery they needed to continue their quest for a hat-trick of wins in the European Amateur Team Championships in Wales. Team Leaderboard
A poor first day left Ireland in 14th pace at Conwy and they couldn’t recover to finish inside the top flight of eight who will battle for the title.
Ireland finished the day in 11th place - 10 strokes behind Finland - and 38 behind top qualifiers Norway on eight over par. The result is a clash with Portugal in Flight B on Thursday.
Paul Cutler was Ireland’s top player with rounds of 72 and 70, followed by Dara Lernihan 75-71 and Simon Ward 72-75. But it was a case of too little to late from Walker Cup hopefuls Alan Dunbar and Niall Kearney.
Dunbar bounced back from a first round 79 with a superb 68 while Kearney added a 72 to his first round 76.
But there was never any real hope that the side could make the top eight with just three sub par scores out of 12 over two days.
Cian Curley made a valiant effort to finish respectably after going to the turn in three over par. He birdied the par five 10th, 12th and 14th holes but ran up a 10 at the par-four 16th and signed for a second successive 77.
Ireland improved by 17 strokes on their first round effort with a second round total of 356. But that was still 13 strokes more than top qualifiers Norway, who go into the matchplay stages as number one seeds.
A superb team performance saw them finish on 30 under par, ahead of Italy who were boosted by the individual brilliance of Nino Bertasio who shot a course record 64.
Sweden finished third with overnight leaders England slipping back to fourth, with France, Scotland, Germany and Finland keeping alive their hopes of winning by qualifying in the top eight in that order.
It means Norway will face Finland in the matchplay stages, with Italy against Germany, Sweden against Scotland and a cross channel affair as England take on France.
Sweden’s Pontus Widegren and Italy’s Matteo Manassero tied at the top of the strokeplay leaderboard on 10 under par, with Italy’s Andrea Pavan one shot back in third.
The Netherlands just missed out on the top eight places despite a much improved second day, as hosts Wales slipped back to 10th place.
It was a remarkable team effort by the Norwegians, they were 17 under for the day, four of them scoring in the 60’s with Espen Kofstad leading the way with a 65 – which would have been an amateur course record but for Bertasio earlier in the day. Joakim Mikkelsen backed up an opening day 68 with a 69.
The Italian assault on the Conwy record books continued with Nino Bertasio scoring a scintillating 64 to set a new best mark for an amateur round the challenging links course.
Bertasio had just 24 putts in his round, becoming the third Italian to get his name into those record books after teammate Andrea Pavan equalled the old record, thenManassero broke it with a 66 on the first day of the European Amateur Team Championship.
Bertasio’s new record ties the best ever score round the course, set by Senior professional Juan Quiroz of Spain.
The Italian was delighted with his improvement on the second day after a two shot penalty on the eighteenth and two shots into bushes had ruined a promising score on the first.
“My putting was definitely the key, I had 24 putts,” he said. “I played beautifully from the tee and hit almost every fairway, so my long game was good too.
“24 putts will make almost any round good, especially when I played beautifully as well. I am really proud of that 64.
“I started really badly yesterday, hit it into two bushes and had two double bogeys. Then I was five under on the back nine until I had real trouble on 18, making triple bogey with two penalty shots.
“My coach was not happy about that, but he will be happier today.”
Bertasio had the two shot penalty for grounding his club in the bunker in frustration, as the ball rolled back in from his first attempt to get out.
However his second round was a very different affair, as part of an impressive Italian team effort.
“We came here a month ago and played three days on this course so we knew what shots to hit and knew the course really well which could be a big factor,” explained Bertasio.
“Matteo is a great player, so simple and solid, so maybe that gives us an extra motivation coming into this.”