Golf: Scots still in Home Internationals hunt

BABERTON braveheart Paul Ferrier savoured a dream double against England in the Home Internationals and declared: “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

The 23-year-old played his part in Ayrshire as Scotland bounced back from an opening defeat against Ireland to keep their title hopes alive at Glasgow Gailes.

He won both his matches in a stunning 10.5-4.5 victory over the Auld Enemy that kept the hosts in the hunt for a first title triumph in the event since 2006.

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“I’ve got a good record against England – I think there’s a reason for that,” said Ferrier with a cheeky smile.

Speaking after he thumped English wonderkid Harry Ellis 5 and 4, the Capital ace added: “The atmosphere out there was great this afternoon and I was feeding off that.”

Ferrier, who is also feeding off the confidence he gained from reaching the semi-finals of the Amateur Championship on his last visit to Ayrshire, played a pivotal role in Scotland securing a 3-2 lead from the morning foursomes.

Left out of the alternate shot format on the opening day, he was paired on this occasion with Balmore’s Fraser McKenna. Up against Jordan Smith and Jamie Rutherford, the Scots fell one behind after Ferrier missed a short putt on the 15th.

“It was a tap-in and after that I felt I owed Fraser over the closing holes,” he admitted.

In fairness, Ferrier did make amends by holing two 18-footers – one for a win at the 16th and the other for a half in birdie-3s at the 17th.

He then found the green with the home team’s second shot at the last, which they won with a par-4 to finish one up. “I’ve not felt pressure like that in a long time,” added Ferrier. “But it was good fun and also a big point for the team.”

His afternoon win also tasted sweet as opponent Ellis recently became the English Amateur champion at 16, two years younger than Nick Faldo when he claimed the same title.

“For a 16-year-old he’s unbelievable,” admitted Ferrier. “Thankfully, after holing putts from all over the place at the start he eventually stopped.

“I also played solid today. I made three birdies, as well as a couple of silly birdies, but I managed to keep on top of him.

“I was pretty disappointed with the way I played in my singles match on the first day but this has made up for that.” Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest, the other Lothians player in the Scottish side, was still waiting for his first point heading into the final day. The newly-crowned Scottish Amateur champion saw his partner, Paul Shields, miss a short putt at the 17th as they lost their morning foursomes 2 and 1.

He then staged a brave fightback against Jamie Rutherford in the singles before eventually succumbing by two holes.

But, with this year’s Craigmillar Park Open winner Graeme Robertson leading the way – he triumphed in the No. 1 spot for the second day running – the Scots enjoyed a day to cherish.

It certainly put a smile on the face of Kingsknowe’s Scott Knowles as he savoured a first success against the English in four cracks as captain.

“The boys were brilliant - every one of them,” he said. “It is one of the biggest wins over England that I can remember in this event and we’re still in with a shout.”

Having followed up their 8-7 win over the Scots by sweeping Wales aside, Ireland headed into the final day as favourites.

A win or draw against England would seal a second successive title triumph on Scottish soil, having come out on top at Muirfield four years ago.

But an English win coupled with a big victory for the Scots over Wales could see Knowles, in charge for the last time in the event, bow out on a high.