European Nations Cup victory stayed in Spain
The European Nations Cup tournament came to an end today in Sotogrande, with the Spanish team taking the men’s title after a 14-year break. Spain beat second-placed England by a total of 22 shots, while Italy snatched third place in a close race. In the women’s competition, victory went to Germany, who beat the Czech team by two shots and Spain by four.
Individually, a play-off was needed to determine the best in the men’s category. Jaime Montojo Fernandez of Spain (WAGR 251), who had been leading since the opening day, was caught by teammate Luis Masaveu (176). Both men’s four-day scores were exactly par. Montojo Ferndandez secured the win with a birdie putt of around 13 metres on the third extra hole. Third place went to Denmark’s Hamish Brown (+2).
In the women’s competition, Helen Briem (Germany, WAGR 70) was the best with a winning score of +5 (74, 73, 76, 70). Briem managed to win both the German stroke play and match play championships last year. In addition, he was the winner of the European Young Masters, the European Under-16 Championship.
Estonia’s Ralf Johan Kivi had the best round on the final day, shooting 76 to move up eight places in the standings. He finished in 58th place with rounds of 85, 79, 80 and 76 for a total of +32. Richard Teder also recorded his best round today with a 79, which lifted him two places to 68th. Richard’s rounds of 84, 81, 84 and 79 gave him a total of +40. Rauno Pikk shot an 82 on the final day for a total of 72nd place. His rounds were 89, 80, 81 and 82 for a total of +44. Two shots and a place behind him was clubmate Ruut Kangust, who had a final day round of 84. Kangust’s previous day’s rounds were 79, 85 and 86. Results
As a team we finished 18th this time. We were three shots behind Austria on the last day, but unfortunately they were still three shots better than us overall.
For most of our players, it was their first experience of competing at this level. We let the players tell us what they thought of the tournament.
Ralf Johan Kivi (Niitvälja): “Coming from the indoor season, it was difficult to play on the fast greens. On the first day I had difficulties with my putting. In addition, I didn’t hit the irons the best during the competition, but as the day went on the game got better. The competition was well organised and the tournament was well worth participating in.”
Richard Teder (EGCC): “I myself struggled with almost every element of my game as I hadn’t been able to practice very much since I was away from golf for 4 months. The experience was awesome, the wind was very strong, I myself struggled with staying in position when I was at the start of the putt. My team-mates were friendly and I got on well with them. Not many people had the best time in this competition, but the experience was worth it. I’m happy with my own iron shots and my hand-to-hand play. Sure, I struggled a bit with my putting, but that improved with time. The driver also didn’t really want to stay on the fairway. Overall, it was a mega cool experience and well worth the trip.”
Rauno Pikk (EGCC): “The course was well maintained. As for the weather, it was an average of 16 degrees with a strong wind. Coming from the indoor season to the grass, it was quite difficult to adapt to everything and it was a bit unusual. The shot itself was normal, but the close game was much more difficult. Both around the greens and on the greens I was struggling and judging the speed was very difficult. The first two days of the competition were difficult and the feel of the shot was gone. The rest of the days the technique was better but the short game was still bad. I couldn’t be satisfied with the final result, but many other players had similar results. The tournament was well organised, I gained a lot of experience and it was definitely worth the trip.”
Ruut Kangust (EGCC): “Not being able to play outdoors before the competition and the difficult adjustment period also contributed to the result. Watching other good players gave me something to think about and I will learn from my own mistakes. Unfortunately, I could not achieve my goals. Now I know what I still need to polish in my game and I can do that before the summer competitions.”
Mark Suursalu (the coach of the national team) also had some observations to make: “The conditions were really difficult all four days, as shown by the fact that no one managed to play a minus result for the four days. The difficult conditions left their mark on our game and different players had different problems in putting together good rounds. However, tournaments like this provide invaluable experience and we should definitely continue to take part in them regardless of the final result. Playing with the top players, the players themselves could see what needs to be paid more attention to in order to narrow the gap.”