Junior Ryder Cup all square after opening foursomes
The Swedish pair of Frida Kinhult and Beatrice Wallin struck the first blow for Europe’s Junior Ryder Cup team with a 5&3 defeat of Hailee Cooper and Kaitlynn Papp in the opening morning foursomes, which ended with honours even.
Despite a nervy start which resulted in an opening bogey, Kinhult and Wallin ultimately ran out comfortable winners to give Europe some early momentum, and subsequent victories for the pair of Adrien Pendaries and Jonathan Goth-Rasmussen and Emma Spitz and Emilie Alba Paltrinieri ensured that the session finished with three points apiece.
Kinhult, whose brother Marcus played in the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup and is now competing on The European Tour, turned 17 on the eve of the tournament, and celebrated in style with an emphatic victory which she labelled the “best birthday present ever”.
She added: “Standing on the tee this morning, with my friends and family watching me, was one of the best experiences of my life. I got a cake last night and everybody sang happy birthday to me, so I’m going to remember this birthday for a very long time.”
Europe’s second point followed soon after, as Pendaries and Goth-Rasmussen edged a thrilling battle with Noah Goodwin and Norman Xiong.
The match was all square going down the last, but after Xiong had missed the green with his approach – the ball pitched past the pin, but rolled down the slope and onto the fringe – Goth-Rasmussen piled on the pressure with an approach to 15 feet.
After Goodwin was unable to chip in, Pendaries had a putt to win the match and duly rolled it into the middle of the cup to spark jubilant celebrations.
He said: “We played pretty well all day without making many putts, but it was nice to hole one when it really mattered. We agreed on the line and it was amazing to see it drop. I’ve never had so many people following me, it was a great atmosphere and it really lived up to expectations.”
Goth-Rasmussen added: “It was a very important point, you don’t want to fall too far behind after the first session. I hit a good shot into the last but my partner still had to finish it off, he holed a great putt and it feels amazing to get my first point in the Junior Ryder Cup.”
Despite a valiant fightback, Falko Hanisch and Matias Honkala were ultimately unable to add to Europe’s points tally.
Having been four down with four to play, Hanisch and Honkala eventually succumbed on the last hole due in part to a strong gust of wind which blew their ball off the green after it originally came to rest some 20 feet from the pin.
However, Europe did not have to wait long before more blue was added to the scoreboard, as Spitz and Paltrinieri won a topsy-turvy match against Alyaa Abdulghany and Lucy Li on the last hole.
After Li had pushed her approach shot right, Paltrinieri ensured victory for Europe with a shot from 180 yards which ended six feet from the pin.
Two putts later, and Europe had their third point of the opening session, with six more points up for grabs in the afternoon mixed fourballs.
Paltrinieri said: “I was standing over the ball and the wind changed, so I started my routine again and considered changing clubs. But then the wind changed back again, so I went with my hybrid and hit it perfectly. It was really important to finish the foursomes all square, so we’re really happy and hopefully we can be leading after the fourballs.”