Date: March 18, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussies catch fire to keep Asia-Pacific alive

Australians Brett Coletta and Zach Murray hit back hard today, but their Asia-Pacific team is in dire trouble heading into the final day of the Bonallack Trophy in Portugal.

But Hannah Green’s Hankins Trophy teammates hold the upper hand over their European rivals despite the hosts hitting back in the second of the three-day team matchplay competition at Vidago Palace Golf Course north-east of Porto.

A day after two agonising one-down losses to open their campaign, Coletta and Murray fought Scottish duo Grant Forrest and Jack McDonald to a tense halved foursomes match early on day two.

But the Victorian duo exploded in the afternoon fourball match, pounding the same opponents 5&4 for the Asia Pacific team’s second win of the session.

“That one was coming … they’ve been waiting to combine well and today they did,” Asia-Pacific captain Matt Cutler said.

“They were 11 under through 13 holes and were amazing with three eagles out there and gave themselves a good birdie chance on every hole, which you have to do guys against guys like Grant and Jack.

“Our guys were happy to get the win, they play against those guys out in Australia and we play against them in Scotland, so there’s a nice rivalry.”

The Europeans, however, still have the whip hand with a 12.5-6.5 lead with one match, also in their favour, still on course when bad light stopped play.

Despite overwhelming odds, Cutler said the inspirational wins of the Aussies and Japanese pair Takumi Kanaya and Toshiki Ishitoku had given the team hope in the closing singles matches.

“We’ve got a lot of points to make up, but on any given day all our players could beat the opponent they come up with — we just need that day to be tomorrow,” Cutler said.

Green, newly promoted to tier one of the Golf Australia national squad, carried on her good form when she teamed with Taiwanese ace Han-Hsuan Yu to beat Italian Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso and Austrian Emma Spitz 3&2 to close out a delayed fourball match this morning.

She then reunited with Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan to secure another vital point with a 1-up win in a foursomes contest against Chloe Williams, of Wales, and young Swede Frida Kinhult.

But the West Australian couldn’t make it four from four when she and Chan succumbed to England’s Meghan MacLaren and Switzerland’s Gioia Carpinelli 2&1 in their afternoon fourball clash.

With two women’s matches still incomplete – one all square through 16 and one being led 2-up by the hosts through 14 – the Asia-Pacific team leads 10-8 overall.

Both men’s and women’s competitions end tomorrow with 12 singles matches.