Defending champions Ireland will face England in a winner-takes-all final day meeting at the Fairstone Men’s Home Internationals, as Scotland’s hopes slumped in the afternoon singles, writes the Scottish Golf Union.
On a wet and wild day in the Highlands, Irish eyes were smiling as they achieved a stirring comeback against the Scots to keep alive hopes of a third straight title.
The hosts had responded from their opening day defeat to England to claim a commanding 4 – 1 advantage over the Irish at The Nairn Golf Club.
But the Scots were blown away in the afternoon winds as Ireland produced a dazzling singles performance to win 8.5 – 6.5, with the home side only claiming two-and-a-half points from the 10 matches post lunch.
Stuart Grehan and Alex Gleeson set the tone at the top of the order with comfortable wins, with Robin Dawson also dispatching Scottish Amateur champion George Duncan 5&3.
Glenbervie’s Graeme Robertson offered hope of a comeback, battling back from three down after nine holes to fire five back nine birdies and beat Paul McBride on the 18th, while Craig Ross from Kirkhill achieved a battling half.
But home hopes were as shortlived as the brief improvement in weather, as John Ross Galbraith sealed victory after edging out local member Sandy Scott at the last. Barry Hume splashed out from the greenside bunker at 18 to beat Rowan Lester, but Colm Campbell’s two-hole victory over Matt Clark put the icing on the Irish cake.
Galbraith, 22, said: “I was aware of the situation. The guys were saying to me on 17, so I knew it was down to my match and I needed to win.
“It was an unbelievable turnaround, we never really got down about the foursomes. We knew if we all went out and played our own games, played the way we can, we could still pull it off. It was some performance to do it, though.”
“I saw after nine holes, walking off and seeing the scoreboard that the first four matches were in Ireland’s favour. The momentum was with us and I guess it just continued until the end,” added this year’s Spanish Amateur semi-finalist.
A disappointed Scott, 18, said: “We were confident after our start in the foursomes, but that’s golf unfortunately. But playing at this level has been a great experience for me, it’s been great to learn from older players, and the home support has been fantastic. I’ve played in worse weather at Nairn so you just have to get on with it.”
Such was the weather, the lunchtime singles matches were delayed by 30 minutes as the greenkeeping team cleared water from the course, but the pause certainly didn’t affect Ireland or England.
The English were always in control as they thumped Wales 11.5 – 3.5 to top the table after day two.
Leading 4 – 1 after the foursomes, they pressed home their advantage with Gian-Marco Petrozzi, Marco Penge and Harry Hall posting emphatic triumphs, with Ashton Turner, Alfie Plant and James Walker also winning by the 3&2 margin.
Petrozzi, 19, making his first Men’s Home International appearance, said: “We’re in a good position going into tomorrow, so hopefully we can do the business against Ireland.
“It’s winner-takes-all, so it should be good fun out there tomorrow. It’s been a really good week, good fun. It’s great playing in team environment which we don’t really do throughout the season so it’s been really enjoyable.”
Scotland and Wales start proceedings at 7.30am tomorrow morning, with England and Ireland following thereafter as they battle for the Raymond Trophy.