Ireland win International Team Championship by 16 shots; Staunton's 64 key

Ireland win International Team Championship by 16 shots; Staunton's 64 key
 Simon Thornton, David Higgins, Mark Staunton with the 2017 International Team Championship. Photo: PGAs of Europe / Johan Hampf

Simon Thornton, David Higgins, Mark Staunton with the 2017 International Team Championship. Photo: PGAs of Europe / Johan Hampf

Delgany's Mark Staunton closed with a sensational, seven-under 64 as Ireland claimed the PGAs of Europe International Team Championship for the first since 2008 with a 16-shot win at the Costa Navarino resort in Greece.

Tulfarris Resort's Simon Thornton shot a one-under 70 and Waterville's David Higgins a discarded 72 as Staunton made seven birdies in the lowest round of the week to set up a facile victory.

Leading by six strokes from Scotland heading into the fourth and final round, Ireland's eight-under 134 in Saturday's final round saw them win in a canter on 19-under 549.

Scotland shot two-over to finish joint second with the Netherlands on three-under 565.

"It was an excellent few days. The resort was first class and the event was well run by the PGA's of Europe," said Galway born Staunton. 

"It is great to have the honour of representing your country and even better to be able to win. The two lads played great all week and on a personal note, it was nice to finish the week off strongly."

The International Team Championship saw 21 teams from the PGAs of Europe’s member countries battling it out over 72 holes on Bernhard Langer designed The Dunes Course. The best two individual scores each day from the team of three counted towards the overall team score. 

 Simon Thornton, David Higgins and Mark Staunton with the ITC trophy at Costa Navarino in Greece

Simon Thornton, David Higgins and Mark Staunton with the ITC trophy at Costa Navarino in Greece

Ireland trailed Scotland by five shots at the close of play on day one but a second round five-under-par 66 from Thornton helped to turn that deficit into a two-shot lead.

Once ahead, Ireland put the foot down finishing day three with a six-shot advantage which they extended to a remarkable 16 shots by the end of play on day four.

"It was a great way to finish the season," said Higgins, who got Ireland off to a solid start on day one with an opening round 68.

"It is a great honour to be selected to represent your country and to win while doing it is extra special."

It was the third Irish win in the event and the first since 2008 when John Kelly (St Margaret's Golf &CC), Robert Giles (Greenore) and Eamonn Brady (Clontarf) won by eight shots from Scotland at Roda Golf Club in Spain.

2017 International Team Championship, Costa Navarino (Par 71)

Detailed scores

1 Ireland -19

T2 Scotland  -3

T2 Holland -3

4 Wales -2

5 Italy +1