Europe: Costa Ballena Men’s Octangular International Challenge (day 2)

IMPRESSIVE EFFORTS: Jack Bigham had big wins in the singles and in the foursomes with Sam Bairstow (background)

Big statement of intent from holders England as Bigham and Brooks both take maximum points against France

EUROPE: Thursday, January 27th

FORMAT: Team Matchplay (Group Qualifiers)

Reigning champions England put themselves in pole position to qualify for the final of the Costa Ballena Men’s Octangular International Challenge in Spain today.

A hugely-impressive 6.5-2.5 victory over France means a draw or win over old foes Ireland tomorrow will mean they will face the other groups winners – Germany or Spain – for the trophy. France and Ireland drew on the opening day yesterday while the fourth member of their group (Holland) were forced to withdraw.

The eight-country event pits the elite of European men’s golf against each other and two years ago England narrowly saw off Ireland to claim the spoils

And the holders’ six-man team turned it on in style against the French today. The tone was set by the lead-out foursomes pair of Brabazon Trophy winner Sam Bairstow and England Boys champion Jack Bigham. The duo were four under par in winning 5&4.

With Jack Cope and Jack Brooks also coming out on top (2&1), England took a 2-1 lead into the afternoon singles.

However there was shock in the top match as Bairstow was blown away by an inspired Tom Valliant, who was five under par in winning at the 14th.

However that would be the only French victory after lunch with the experienced duo of Jack Brooks (6&5) and Olly Huggins (5&4) delivering in style. The former opened with three straight birdies as he demolished Hugo Le Goff.

Meanwhile teenager Bigham completed a memorable day with a rush of birdies on his back nine to beat Martin Couvra 4&3. 

– Tom Valliant & Nicolas Muller lost 5&4 to Sam Bairstow (Hallowes) & Jack Bigham (Harpenden)
– Martin Couvra & Julien Sale beat Arron Edwards-Hill (Chelmsford) & Olly Huggins (Frilford) 3&2
– Hugo Le Goff & Adam Bresnu lost 2&1 to Jack Cope (The Players Club) and Jack Brooks (The Mere)
– Valliant beat Bairstow 6&4
– Muller lost to Edwards-Hill 1 hole
– Couvra lost to Bigham 4&3
– Le Goff lost to Brooks 6&5
– Bresnu lost to Huggins 5&4
– Sale A/S with Cope

Day 1: Portugal 1, Spain 8; Germany 7, Italy 2; France 4.5, Ireland 4.5.
Day 2: Portugal 2, Germany 7; Spain 4.5, Italy 4.5.