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Golf - 10. July 2013.

England in medal hunt at Fulford

England successfully battled through a tough day to keep alive their dream of winning a medal in the European ladies’ team championship at Fulford, York.

The team finished in sixth place at the end of the 36-hole qualifying – 40 shots adrift of the leaders Denmark, but safely in the top flight of eight teams who go on to contest the medals in the matchplay stages of the tournament.

Denmark dominated the qualifying, finishing the stroke play on 19-under par and 31 shots clear of runners-up Spain. The worst score returned by their players today was a one-over 73 - which was discounted – while four of the other team members beat par.

But tomorrow’s match play – in which England take on The Netherlands - is a clean slate. “The important thing is just to be in the top flight,” said England captain Emma Brown. “You’ve got to beat everyone to win and we are in there with a chance.”

The second round produced more sparkling golf to delight the spectators, whose numbers are thought to be approaching 1000 over two days.

Finland’s Oona Vartiainen returned a five-under 67 to lead the individual table on eight-under par, pipping Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden on countback. Oona’s reward is a place in the ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters on the Ladies European Tour, which is being played at The Buckinghamshire from July 26-28.

Such low scores eluded England’s players today, but they produced some very gritty golf to secure their place in the top flight. At times the team appeared perilously close to the cut-off mark but, on a day of ups and downs, they produced the results they needed.

“It was a bit nervy, but we put two strong players at the back and they came up with the goods and turned in a couple of tidy scores,” said Emma.

Her backstops were Bronte Law, a member of last year’s winning Curtis Cup team, who came in with a two-over 74, and British champion Georgia Hall (Image © Leaderboard Photography) who birdied the last for 73.

Georgia, who hit two great shots to reach the green, emphasised her final putt with an energetic fist-pump – in celebration of halving yesterday’s score on the hole!

“I’m happy with 73,” said the 17-year-old European number one. “It was much harder today, it was windier, colder, the ball wasn’t running as much so you had to hit longer clubs to the greens and the pins were much harder. I played well and I was quite steady.”

She added: “It’s a different game tomorrow!”

Earlier in the day Meghan MacLaren and Hayley Davis both returned rounds of 76. Hayley summed up the fighting spirit of the day when she explained afterwards that she’d struggled with her putting – but nevertheless played the last 10 holes in one-under par. The final counting score of the day was provided by Sarah-Jane Boyd who returned 78, while Lauren Taylor’s 80 was discounted.

England tee off against The Netherlands at 8.10am tomorrow with two foursomes, followed by five singles. Players:

0810 Georgia Hall (Remedy Oak) & Hayley Davis (Ferndown)
0820 Bronte Law (Bramhall) & Lauren Taylor (Woburn)

1420 Georgia Hall
1428 Bronte Law
1436 Hayley Davis
1444 Sarah-Jane Boyd (Truro)
1452 Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough)

Leading qualifying results:
-19 Denmark
+12 Spain
+19 The Netherlands
+20 Sweden
+20 Finland
+21 England
+21 France
+29 Austria
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