County Louth's Thomas Mulligan halved his singles as Great Britain and Ireland overcame a two-point deficit to tie 12½ -12½ with the Continent of Europe and retain the Jacques Leglise Trophy at Royal Dornoch.
Peter McEvoy’s GB&I side held a narrow one-point lead at the start of the day but the outcome looked far from assured after the Continent of Europe turned the match on its head by winning the morning foursomes 3½ - ½ to open up a 9-7 lead going into the singles.
On a windy afternoon by the Dornoch Firth there was no telling how the matches would finish as the advantage swung one way then the other. The outcome was eventually decided by the final shot on the final green of the final match.
For most of the afternoon Scotland’s Sandy Scott trailed Norway’s Viktor Hovland in the anchor match. Buoyed by large local support, the Nairn golfer rallied from two down with four to play to get back to all-square playing the 18th.
A halved match would have been enough for GB&I to win the contest outright but Hovland had other ideas. He fired his 200-yard approach over the flag to 15 feet and two-putted for par, while Scott, the Scottish Boys Open Stroke Play Champion, missed the green right and was unable to get up and down for par and lost by one hole.
It meant the matches were tied for the first time since 1978 when the contest was played over one day instead of two.
Miguel Franco de Sousa’s Continent of Europe side enjoyed a purple patch as three matches in the top order all trailed playing the 18th but all gained halved matches.
The run began with Iceland’s Gisli Sveinbergsson, who was two down with two to play before he halved with England’s Marco Penge in the top match, while Denmark’s John Axelsen won the 18th to halve with Ireland’s Thomas Mulligan.
In the fourth tie Germany’s Maximilian Schmitt was so far right with his approach to the 18th he found the adjacent first fairway but managed to get up and down for par to also earn a half point against England’s William Enefer.
Ben Chamberlain (2&1), Calum Fyfe (3&2) and Tim Harry (6&4) all won their singles matches for GB&I, which fittingly left playing captain Bradley Moore to secure the all-important point to retain the trophy.
This year’s Carris Trophy champion had a close match against Denmark’s Christoffer Bring but finished strongly and closed out the match 3&1 to allow the GB&I team celebrations to begin.
In the morning foursomes the Continent of Europe stormed out of the blocks and threatened a clean sweep but the Scottish pairing of Scott and Fyfe showed great tenacity to come from two down with six to play to eventually halve the bottom tie with Hovland and Reitan. There was greater clarity in the three matches ahead as Franco de Sousa’s side were convincing winners.
Penge and Mulligan lost 5&4 for the second time in the top match against Sweden’s Tim Widing and Sveinbergsson. Harry and his Welsh compatriot Chamberlain lost 6&4 to Italy’s Guido Migliozzi and Adrien Pendaries from France.
The English pair of Moore and Enefer trailed throughout their match before losing 4&3 against Bring and Axelsen, who along with Hovland was undefeated for the week.
Peter McEvoy, Great Britain and Ireland Team Manager, said: “We’ve retained the trophy but we wanted to win, we should have won. We played the 18th five times today and we lost the 18th five times. I think we should have won the match comfortably.
“I thought the lads showed tremendous spirit and great golf all afternoon, apart from not quite finishing the job off on the 18th.
“I’m proud of the team, it was a great effort but I think we will still go away feeling the job wasn’t quite done. I know we retained the trophy but we wanted to win the match.”
Miguel Franco de Sousa, the Continent of Europe Team Manager, said: “It was very tight, it could have gone either way and you have to congratulate the GB&I team, they played really good golf in the afternoon, a very good fight back.
“They should be very proud of themselves and I am very proud of my team. It’s a draw but we are not taking the trophy home.
“The 18th was a good hole for us, especially in the singles because we managed to get three halved matches when we were down in them all - that kept the momentum going and there was still hope of winning."
For scoring from the matches please visit Championships.randa.org.
The 2016 Jacques Leglise Trophy will be played at Prince’s in England on 26 and 27 August.