Scots get title defence off to winning start against Wales

DEFENDING champions Scotland survived a singles wobble to beat Wales on the opening day of the Home Internationals at Ganton.

A comfortable victory looked to be on the cards after Scott Knowles’ side emerged from the morning foursomes with a 4½-½ lead in Yorkshire.

However, the Welsh fought back in the afternoon and were in with a chance of salvaging a draw until Scott Borrowman and Matthew Clark turned their matches around.

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Borrowman, last year’s Scottish Order of Merit winner, ended up beating Alistair Jones by 2 & 1 while Clark won on the last against Ben Westgate. Added to earlier wins by Grant Forrest, Jack McDonald and James Ross, it meant the Scots launched their Raymond Trophy defence with a 9½-5½ victory.

“An excellent start,” said Knowles. “Wales came back well in the afternoon but our guys are playing well and it’s all to play for now.”

The foundations had been laid with an impressive morning performance by last month’s European Team Championship runners-up. Taking up where they had left off in the title triumph at Glasgow Gailes 12 months ago, McDonald and Graeme Robertson led by example with a 3 & 2 victory over Alistair Jones and Richard James at the top of the order.

Clark and Zander Culverwell, the new Scottish champion, won by the same margin against Jack Bush and Zach Galliford; Forrest and Borrowman were 5 & 3 winners over Lee Jones and Craig Melding while debutants Bradley Neil and Danny Young hit it off straightaway to beat Westgate and Mike Hearne 5 & 4.

The Welsh, missing star man Rhys Pugh, had David Boote and Jason Shufflebotham to thank for being spared a whitewash as they secured a half with Ross and Ewan Scott.

Shufflebotham followed up that effort by beating Walker Cup hopeful Robertson 3 & 2 in the top singles – the Glenbervie player’s first defeat in his last eight matches in the event. But Forrest beat Matthew Moseley 3 & 2 in his head-to-head match while McDonald was an impressive 6 & 5 winner over Bush.

With Ross also adding a point, thanks to a 3 & 2 success against Lee Jones, it meant the Scots could not be beaten but they still had to wait some time before Borrowman and Clark delivered the wins that ensured a first-day victory.

In the other match, European champions England overcame the absence of a number of their leading players – the likes of Garrick Porteous, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond are all playing in this week’s US Amateur and qualified successfully for the match-play stage at Brookline – to beat Ireland 8-7.

Scotland now take on Ireland today.