(SGU press release)
Scotland’s bid for a second consecutive European Men’s Amateur Team Championship title gets underway tomorrow at Osterakers in Sweden (6 – 10 July).
Michael Stewart, who along with Ross Kellett are the remaining members of the team who defeated England 5 -2 in last year’s final, was in confident mood as the Scots, captained by Scott Knowles, aim to retain the title for the first time since 1977.
“There’s a really good vibe in the team and I think we’re every bit as strong as last year. Kris Nicol, Philip McLean and Greg Paterson and relishing playing in the event for the first time and with James Byrne bang on form, we’re really looking forward to defending title,” said Stewart, who narrowly missed out on a place in The Open by two shots at Ladybank last week.
“James, Ross and I were all part of the European Boys team who finished second in Malmo back in 2006, so we have good memories of playing in Sweden. All the players in this year’s side have shown good form this season so there’s no reason why we can’t go out and challenge strongly again.” added the 20-year-old from Troon.
Looking back on last year’s success in Wales, Stewart reflected:
“The key to our success was team spirit and having guys like Gavin (Dear) and Wallace (Booth) on board was a real calming influence, with their experience of winning the World Championship. The national coach, Ian Rae, also brings bags of experience at this level and he knows how to get the best out of us.”
“Our first objective is making it through to the top flight of eight from the stroke play qualifying and then taking each game as it comes from there. As we showed last year, Scotland teams are good at stepping up to the big occasion and we can take confidence from our achievement twelve months ago.” concluded the former Scottish Boys Champion.
Byrne is Scotland’s man of the moment, having been finished runner-up in The Amateur Championship at Muirfield before being edged out a place in The Open via a play-off at Kingsbarns, before going on to represent Europe in the Palmer Cup in Ireland. Kellett, the second highest ranked Scot in amateur golf behind Byrne, collected his first SGU Order of Merit title recent in the Tennant Cup and played a key role in Scotland’s victory in the event last year.
Commencing on Tuesday, the first two rounds involve stroke play qualifying, with the five best scores from six counting towards the team’s aggregate total. The leading eight nations then compete for the Championship in a match play knock-out format, with the final taking place on Saturday 10 July.