Cover photo: Boesenfoto.dk
The first round of match play at the 2021 European Team Championships has been completed.
Tee times, match play brackets and results for all championships can be accessed through the link below:
Hosts, Spain got off to a shaky start at PGA Catalunya Resort on Thursday. The number-one seeds faced Austria in their quarter-final match. Both morning foursomes matches went down the eighteenth, but the first point of the day went to Austria's Maximilian Steinlechner and Christoph Bleier with a one-hole victory.
Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra, the top individual in the stroke play rounds, managed to tie the score with a victory for Spain alongside Alvaro Hernandez Cabazuela.
The Spanish team never looked back, claiming four of the five afternoon singles to book a spot in the semi-finals.
France will face the hosts in the semi-finals. The French team came out on top in a close encounter with the Netherlands. With three points each on the board, the match went down to Julien Sale and Kiet Van der Weele's singles match, which was all-square through 15.
France went one hole up with a win on 16, but the match went down the 18th. Kiet Van der Weele had a birdie putt to extend the match to extra holes, but it narrowly missed, sending France into the semi-finals.
Belgium upset defending champions, Germany on Thursday at PGA Catalunya. The German team rested their two top ranked players, Jannik de Bruyn and Matthias Schmid, in the morning foursomes. The decision may have cost them however, as the Belgian's claimed both of the first two points.
The Germans recovered to win the first three singles mathes of the afternoon, but were unable to overturn the 2-0 defecit.
Belgium will play Denmark in the semi-finals on Friday. The Danish team's match with Sweden went down to the wire. With three points each on the board, the match between Ludvig Aberg and August Thor Host went down the 19th.
A bogey from the Swede, and an excellent par save from the Dane, sent Denmark through to the semi-finals.
Number-one seeds, Scotland, had a major scare on Thursday at Royal County Down. After dominating the stroke play qualifying, the Scottish ladies looked like the team to beat.
They played Spain in the quarter-finals, who managed to win both morning foursomes matches, including one on the 5th extra hole.
Ana Pelaez Trivino also won the first singles match of the afternoon to put Spain just one win away from the semi finals.
The Scottish team recovered incredibley however, claiming all four of the remaining matches to progress to the next round.
They'll face England, who came out 5-2 winners against the Czech Republic. Annabell Fuller and Charlotte Heath won their foursomes match 6&5 in the morning, and both won their singles matches in the afternoon.
The two matches on the other side of the bracket were decided in extra holes. Defending champions, Sweden, were able to defeat Denmark 4-3 with a win by Andrea Grimberg Lignell on the 19th hole.
Hosts, Ireland, were able to claim the first two foursomes matches against Italy. The Italians fought back however, with two singles wins in the afternoon. All of the remaining matches were all-square through 18. Alessia Nobilio and Anna Zanusso clinched the decisive points for the Italian team.
Germany still look like the team to beat at the European Boys' Team Championship after a comfortable 6-1 victory over the Netherlands.
The three other matches in the Flight A bracket were much tighter however, and were all decided by a single point.
Neither team were able to secure two consecutive matches on the day. With the score at 3-3, the match between Sweden's Alfons Bondesson and Maxence Giboudot from France went all the way to the 6th extra hole. Sweden were able to clinch the victory, and will play Germany in the semi-finals.
The Czech Republic played hosts, Denmark, in the quarter-finals. Again, the score was tied at 3-3 with the final match going down the 18th, but Jakub Janda was able to win the match for the Czech Republic and send his team into the semi-finals.
Number-two seeds, Italy achieved the comeback of the day against seventh seeds, Spain at Fureso Golfklub. The Italian team lost both of the morning foursomes matches. Jose Luis Ballester won the first singles match of the afternoon in favour of Spain to take the score to 3-0.
It looked like the Spanish team would go through comfortably, being up in two of the four remaining matches on the course. A number of birdies from the Italian players on holes 16 and 17 turned the match around however, and the Italian's were able to edge a victory by 4-3.
Finishing leaders of the stroke play qualifying, France started Thursday's matches very strong by winning the two foursomes in the morning. The hosts, Portugal, seeded eight at the end of the stroke play phase, fought back during the singles' matches, winning the first two of the afternoon. Finally, France imposed themselves over Portugal with a 4.5 to 2.5 scoreline, securing a spot in the semi-finals.
The second match of the day also delivered suspense with Italy and Denmark both winning a point in the morning foursomes. The afternoon singles' matches saw Denmark defeat Italy in the first three matches, advancing them to the semi-finals with score of 4-3.
Last year's runners-up, Sweden, carried on a steady battle against the Czech Republic, seeded sixth after the stroke play qualifying. The Swedish girls did not give many opportunities for their opponents to win points, and imposed themselves with a 6 to 1 victory, qualifying for the semi-finals on Friday.
The last quarter-finals of the 2021 European Girls' Team Championship was the closest match of the day. After Denmark won both foursomes matches in the morning, it seemed like the result going Denmark's way. The Spanish team, second in the stroke play qualifying, fought back in the afternoon singles' matches. The battle to earn the last spot for the semi-finals was tight in the last matches of the day until Spanish players won both of the last two matches to claim victory over the Netherlands on holes 17 and 18, earning a win for their team.
The stroke play qualifying rounds have been completed in the men's and boy's Division 2 team championships. Despite a delay for thunderstorms in the early afternoon, all players were able to complete their rounds.
Finland (+16), Norway (+27), Slovenia (+32) and Estonia (+33) earned spots in the all-important Flight A of the boys' event. The four teams will compete for three spots in next year's Division 1 Championship.
Estonian player, Richard Teder posted the lowest two-round individual total at Estonian Golf & Country Club. Rounds of 68 and 71 totalled five-under-par.
In the Men's event, the Czech Republic look like the team to beat. They were the only team to finish with an under-par total, reaching -17 after two rounds. Finland (par), Slovenia (+10) and Estonia (+13) will complete Flight A.
Jiri Zuska earned the honour of lowest individaul scorer. The Czech player carded rounds of 69 and 68 for a total of -7.
How do the European Team Championships Work?
Each team is made up of six players. Over Day’s 1 & 2 all players complete two individual stroke play rounds. The team’s five best scores out of the six from each day count towards their stroke play qualifying totals.
Based on finishing position in the stroke play qualifying, the top eight teams from each championship qualify for the medal-contention Flight A bracket.
The format for the three remaining competition days is match play. Nations go head-to-head, with two foursomes matches in the morning and five singles matches in the afternoon.
In the match play brackets, teams are seeded based on their qualifying position, (1 vs 8, 2 vs 7 etc.). Winning teams advance in their brackets, while losing teams play against other defeated nations to determine final position.
To win the title, a team must qualify for Flight A and then win all three of its matches. Teams placed second and third are awarded silver and bronze medals.
In the men’s and boys’ tournaments, three teams are normally relegated to the Division 2 championships. However, due to the current Covid-19 situation, no teams will be relegated this year.