Bad Saarow - Excitement was in the air of the European Amateur Team Championship, when the decisive day of the stroke play qualification came to life. As the flights worked their way through the course of the A-ROSA Scharmützelsee golf resort, the leaderboard ranking of the teams rotated wildly up and down, only to find pacification in the late afternoon of this increasingly warm and sunny wednesday.
Non-counting scores decide the lead
The more players finished their round, the more the leaderboard could be trusted. After all it was the Swedish team, that was best at converting its playing power into low scores. The Scandinavian squad scores 18 under par for the day, tying England in terms of overall strokes. On top of that, Sweden pushes England out of the prime spot, as the sum of the non-counting scores came into play. After all, both teams needed only 693 strokes to sweep through the two stroke play days - showing their outstanding playing capability.
The third ranked team already noted 704 strokes - 11 shots more than the two top squads. Quite a significant margin, especially in comparison to the close fights for the positions to follow. Anyway, the third rank is taken by the Danish team that is being pulled to this notable result by Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard, both playing very good rounds of 68 (-4) and 66 (-6) on this second day.
Turn-around management by Germany
Next to follow is Germany, the hosting team of the event. The Germans were able to score the third best team result of the second day, thus lifting itself from a tied tenth position up to a safe harbor far away from the dividing line that marks the border between flight A and flight B. The result did not come without a drama, though. The early starting players Falko Hanisch and Timo Vahlenkamp picked up high scores of 76 and 75 strokes.
Accordingly the Germans lost valuable spots in the overall ranking. The turning point came with the third German player: Hurly Long. He was plowing through the Faldo course today, digging out the amazing number of seven birdies and one eagle. Long did not allow himself a single dropped shot today and signed a 63 (-9) - the best score to be played today and the second best score in the whole stroke play competition. All the three other German players, that were still to come, scored under-par rounds then. Germany ends the qualifying round with 705 strokes in fourth place.
Ireland out of luck
Spain also gains ground on this second day and takes the fifth place (707 strokes). The sixth rank is taken by Scotland with 709 strokes. Seventh place is held by the french national team (711 strokes), that dropped by three positions today, but still makes the flight A in relative comfort. The last spot of the top eight team however was only to be given away with drama until the very last hole. Ireland and Finland were fighting for this one last vacancy. And when the day came to an end, Finland was left with a spectator role, as all of its six players had already finished their rounds.
So it was up to Ireland, whose last player on the course was Robin Dawson. After scoring a respectable 67 (-5) on day one however, he was not playing his sharpest game today. Anyway Dawson was able to level the amount of strokes between the teams, when he played a birdie on the seventeenth hole. That would not be enough to take the eighth place, though, since Finland has the lower non-counting scores, which would make the Scandinavians the winners of a draw situation. Hence Dawson had to play for birdie. The call for the shamrock came too late, though. He ended up with a bitter bogey.
Finland excited for the match play
The winner of the last remaining spot of flight A is Finland. And the team is more than happy to be in further contention for the prestigious European title. Advisor Mikail Mustonen wraps up the thrilling day: „Of course it feels good to be top eight, because for every team this is the first goal. And it doesn’t matter, if your are first or second, as long as you end up in flight A. We were prepared to be in this group, because when you look at the world amateur golf rankings, we are on sixth position of all the teams here. So we expected to have a fair chance. That it would be so close, was unexpected, though. We struggled a bit today and we are fortunate to be in the top group. We are anxious for the oncoming match play. For us, this is the moment, where the tournament really starts. Tomorrow is going to be a new day and a new format. And we are looking very forward to play the Swedish team. They have perfomed very good over the last days, so we have nothing to lose and we are going to give it a good shot tomorrow.“
From Thursday on, only the teams in flight A will continue to play for the title of the European Team Champion. The quarter finals will start at 07:00 o’clock. The teams in flight B will play for places and try to avoid relegation. Their tee off begins at 08:20 o’clock.