It threatened to be a close run thing but in the end England comfortably defended the Portugal Nations Cup on 25 under par, winning by six shots from the Portuguese hosts in second place. Luke Goddard added the icing to the cake by birdieing the final hole for a 14 under par total and snatching the individual title from Renier Saxton by one shot.
The day started in mixed fashion for the English team with a variety of fortunes down the first hole giving Luke an unlikely birdie 3, Jamie a fortunate par 4 and Sam a disastrous triple-bogey 7 when once again his ball did not mix well with a cart path, throwing it out of bounds into a villa on the right. This set the tone for all three players for the day but by the turn England had overturned the one shot deficit into a two shot lead, courtesy of a an opening 34 (-3) from Jamie and a 37 (Ev) from Luke.
Renier Saxton of Holland covered the front nine in 31 (-6) and at that point it looked like the dutch could be the closest threat but it was Portugal that came back at the English with Jamie´s playing partner Tiago Rodrigues pulling out an eagle at the 10th and following up with a birdie at the 11th. A dropped shot for Jamie on the 12th hole gave the Portuguese player a four shot swing on the opening holes of the back nine which increased to five following a further birdie at the 14th. However, Jamie kept his composure very well over the closing holes and when his birdie putt on the 15th dropped he followed it up with superb birdies on the 16th and 18th under pressure to reduce the deficit further, swinging the tournament in England´s favour.
Sam never recovered from the opening hole but kept his cool to get the better of his Portuguese playing partner which effectively assured an English victory in the event of a tie. However it wasn´t required as Luke played superb golf over the final nine holes returning a score of 31 (-5) that also gave him the individual title, with Renier Saxton failing to improve on his outward half.
The fireworks began at the par three 13th hole when Luke’s ball just evaded the cup for a hole-in-one, a shot he matched at the par three 15th hole when again his tee shot ended within tap-in range. A short missed eagle putt on the 16th was fortunately not costly for Luke who then made a fantastic up-and-down on the 17th for a par. Two solid long shots to the heart of the final green and two putts from the lower tier were enough for a birdie four and the English celebrations could then begin, both for the team and for Luke as the individual medallist.
The first congratulatory message received by the English team was from Eddie Pepperell, still recovering back at home from the virus that prevented him from joining his colleagues this week. We all hope Eddie will be back in good form soon and hopefully his name will be appearing on several England team sheets next season.
The three players present can now look forward to a break, this is Jamie´s final tournament for this season and he is due a rest that sounds like it is long overdue. My best wishes go to Sam and Luke in next months Eisenhower Trophy, they have defeated some big names this week and hopefully they can take the winning feeling over to Adelaide for more English success.
For final results click here.