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5 Irish named on GB&I Vagliano and Junior Vagliano teams

Leona Maguire, Maria Dunne and Olivia Mehaffey after their recent Curtis Cup win in June 2016, Photo Credit: Veronica McGreevey.

The 2017 Vagliano Trophy and Junior Vagliano will be hosted by Golf Club Bogogno in Italy from June 29th to July 1st.

The Vagliano Trophy began as a match between Great Britain & Ireland (GB&1) and France in 1931 and was played annually until 1939 and again after World War 11 in 1947 and 1949, it became a biennial event thereafter. Since 1959, the match has been played between GB&I and a team representing the Continent of Europe. The Vagliano Trophy, given by French golfer Andre Vagliano, was last played at Malone Golf Club, Belfast, in 2015 in which the Continent of Europe emerged victorious for a 5th consecutive time.

The Junior Vagliano Trophy, an U16’s Girls match, is played alongside the main Trophy which saw Annabel Wilson (Lurgan) and Mairead Martin (Kanturk) make their GB&I debuts at Malone. Wilson has confirmed her place on the senior team for the 2017 matches while up and coming star Sara Byrne (Douglas) has added a GB&I Cap to her first International call-up to the Irish Girls’ European Team.

2017 GB&I Vagliano Trophy Team

Gemma Clews (England)

India Clyburn (England)

Maria Dunne (Ireland)

Alice Hewson (England)

Sophie Lamb (England)

Leona Maguire (Ireland)

Olivia Mehaffey (Ireland)

Annabel Wilson (Ireland)

Captain: Elaine Farquharson-Black (Scotland)

Reserves: Lianna Bailey (England), Hollie Muse (England)

2017 GB&I Junior Vagliano Trophy Team

Sara Byrne (Ireland)

Annabell Fuller (England)

Lily May Humphreys (England)

Euphemie Rhodes (England)

Ffion Tynan (Wales)

Carys Worby (Wales)

Captain: Claire Coughlan-Ryan (Ireland)

Reserves: Caitlin Whitehead, Beth Coulter (Ireland)

Elaine Farquharson-Black, who led GB&I to a memorable 11½-8½ win over the USA in the Curtis Cup at Dun Laoghaire last year, will captain the team and the Aberdeen-based lawyer will be looking to reverse a run of six consecutive wins by the Continent of Europe. Claire Coughlan-Ryan continues in her role as captain of the Under-16 team to play in the Junior Vagliano Trophy match which runs parallel to the women’s competition.

Commenting on the squad Farquharson-Black said, “’I am looking forward to a great match. We have an excellent team, with a blend of youth and experience.” Junior Vagliano Trophy captain Coughlan-Ryan added, “I look forward to working with a talented group of young golfers and trying to win the Junior Vagliano Trophy for the first time against the Continent of Europe.”

Not since a 13-11 win over the Continent of Europe at Chantilly twelve years ago has GB&I lifted the Vagliano Trophy. A close match in 2015 ended 12½-11½ at the Malone Golf Club. The junior side were also defeated 10½– 7½ in Northern Ireland.

However, GB&I’s chances may be boosted by the inclusion of Leona Maguire, who is currently the number one women’s golfer in the WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKINGTM (WAGRTM) The Irish golfer, who represented her country at the Rio Olympics last year, chose to retain her amateur status and finish a degree at Duke University in the United States rather than pursue qualification for the LPGA Tour. Maguire, a member of Farquharson-Black’s victorious Curtis Cup squad will lead the GB&I charge in Italy. She will be joined by her fellow country women and Curtis Cup teammates Olivia Mehaffey and Maria Dunne. Sixteen-year-old Annabel Wilson, the youngest member of the team also joins the team from Ireland.

Mehaffey, currently WAGRTM number nine, Maguire, and Wilson helped Ireland to a historic bronze medal in the Espirito Santo Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championships last year. Mehaffey’s individual wins at the Irish Women’s Open and Welsh Ladies Open Stroke Play Championships last season put her in Farquharson-Black’s plans for the Vagliano Trophy. Dunne, the eldest of the group, joins the team after her recent win at the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play last week.

Alice Hewson, India Clyburn, Gemma Clews and Sophie Lamb from England make up the rest of the team to face the continent of Europe. WAGRTM number 38 Hewson, the highest ranked player from the English contingent and member of the victorious 2016 GB&I Curtis Cup team, finished runner-up in The Schooner Fall Classic and tied fourth in the English Women’s Amateur in 2016.

Both Hewson and Clews previously represented GB&I in the Vagliano Trophy, and made up the England side that competed in the Espirito Santo Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championships.

Farquharson-Black may choose to reunite Clews and Lamb, who plays in her first Vagliano Trophy after winning the British Women’s Stroke Play Championship in 2016, after the pair helped England to retain the Seve Ballesteros Trophy earlier this month at El Saler Golf Club in Valencia.

The format for the Vagliano Trophy is four foursomes ties each morning and eight singles matches on the afternoon of Friday 30 June and Saturday 1 July. The Junior Vagliano Trophy takes the form of three junior foursomes each morning and six junior singles matches each day.

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