Europe firmly in the hunt at the Junior Ryder Cup
Europe will need to overturn a two point deficit on the final day of the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup if they are to lift the trophy for the first time in a decade.
Having halved the morning foursomes session 3-3, Europe lost the mixed afternoon fourballs 4-2 and so trail their American counterparts 7-5 after a blustery day at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota.
With 12 points up for grabs in the Tuesday singles, there is still ample opportunity for Europe to turn the tables but Captain Maitena Alsuguren knows her young charges now face a tough task to claim a first outright victory since 2004.
She said: “Of course I would’ve loved to be level or even ahead, but overall it was a pretty good day and I’m proud of the team. We managed to win most of the matches which ended on the final hole, so that shows me the team has lots of fight and gives me confidence for tomorrow.
“Everyone played their part, even the players who didn’t manage to get a win, and I’m sure they will be focused for the final day. It will be tough, of course, but if they play with the same spirit we have a very good chance of winning.”
A day after celebrating her 17th birthday, Frida Kinhult won two matches out of two – firstly in partnership with compatriot Beatrice Wallin in the morning foursomes (5&3), before teaming up with Kristoffer Reitan in the mixed fourballs to defeat Davis Shore and Hailee Cooper two up.
Kinhult and Reitan had been three down with five to play, but won each of the last five holes with Reitan’s sumptuous eight-iron to four feet on the last hole sealing a superb victory.
Reitan, who drove the green on the 340-yard par four tenth hole, said: “We gave ourselves a lot of chances on the back nine, and when we started making some putts the momentum just built. We were really pumped, it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow.”
Kinhult, whose brother Marcus plays on the European Tour, said: “We started holing some putts and our confidence just grew and grew after that. I’m so happy, this was the best birthday present ever and I’m looking forward to going into the singles matches.”
Europe were soon celebrating another point when Falko Hanisch and Emma Spitz saw off Eugene Hong and Gina Kim 3&1. The duo flew out of the blocks, with Spitz eagling the first and Hanisch making birdie at the next to race into an early lead.
And although the Americans staged a fightback, it was too little too late as Europe ultimately ran out comfortable winners, with Spitz holing a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to finish the match in style.
The diminutive Austrian had earlier won her foursomes match in tandem with Emilie Alba Paltrinieri, so joining Kinhult in the 100 per cent club.
She said: “I saw the line of the putt and thought I should end the match soon, because it was getting quite cold! It’s been a long day, but it was a great way to finish.
“Getting off to a good start was really important, because it means you can relax and you don’t have to push so hard. Falko was able to reach most of the par fives in two, so my job was mainly to play safe and make some birdies when I could, and it worked out well.”
Hanisch added: “We were very aggressive right from the start, and even though the American team came back at us, we stayed positive and managed to get the win. Going into the singles three points behind would have been tough, but 7-5 is OK and we still have a great chance tomorrow.”
In the other fourballs matches, the French duo of Adrien Pendaries and Pauline Roussin-Bouchard narrowly lost a thrilling contest against Wilson Furr and Emilia Migliaccio.
The match swung one way then the other, but ultimately Migliaccio’s par putt from six feet on the last proved crucial as America prevailed one up.
The other afternoon matches also went America’s way, as Norman Xiong and Alyaa Abdulghany beat Jonathan Goth-Rasmussen and Julia Engström 5&4, whilst Patrick Welch and Lucy Li defeated Matias Honkala and Paltrinieri 4&3.
Europe will now need to secure 7½ points in the singles matches to reach the magic 12½ mark, whilst America only need a total of 12 points to retain the trophy.