ST ALBANS, England – The Irish team of Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan won the GolfSixes by defeating Frenchmen Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Romain Wattel 2-0, but girl power was the ultimate winner in the European Tour’s second edition of the innovative, six-hole tournament.
Carlota Ciganda, Georgia Hall, Charley Hull and Mel Reid proved the top women golfers can play with the top men under certain circumstances. Despite oddsmakers listing them as long shots to win, the England and European women’s teams emerged from the greensomes, match-play tournament with heads held high.
They were so successful Lydia Ko might make an appearance next year.
The English women’s duo of Hall and Hall qualified to the quarterfinals from the round-robin group matches. They posted a draw with the England men’s team, defeated South Africa, narrowly lost to Sweden and qualified for the knockout stages by finishing second in group four. They lost 2-0 to Ireland in the quarterfinals.
Ciganda and Reid finished second in group one after losing to the United States, tying Denmark and defeating Thailand. They went into the quarterfinals after defeating the Danes in a playoff. Ciganda and Reid lost 2-0 to Australia in the first stage of knockout play.
“It’s a huge success for women’s golf,” Reid said. “Hopefully we’ve opened a few more eyes to women’s golf, that we can compete and that we are pretty good at what we do and we work very hard at what we do.”
Reid received lots of encouraging messages, including one from Ko.
“Loads of the girls in America have been saying how much they have enjoyed watching it,” Reid said. “Lydia Ko has already messaged us saying she’s absolutely desperate to get on a team next year.”
Dunne and Moynihan had to be at their best to defeat Hall and Hull, as they needed to be to beat the other teams in the competition.
“We knew we had a tough match against the English women,” Dunne said. “They’re not just any female golfers, they’re the best in Europe and they’ve proven that. There’s a difference between a great player and a special player. The two of them have proven to be special. They hit shots you don’t expect, and they can turn matches. We just played really solid against them, but anything could have happened.”
The European Tour made the sensible decision to push the ladies’ tees forward to make the matches more equal. The difference ranged from 10 yards at the first to 50 yards at the fourth and sixth holes. The fifth tee measured 136 yards for both teams.
Ko might not be the only new face next year. Eddie Pepperell will lobby the European Tour to include the best European amateurs. The Englishman was instrumental in getting Hull and company into this year’s event.
“Let’s have some amateurs in this event,” Pepperell said. “We could have the best boys and girl’s European amateurs to make it bigger and better, a festival of golf. I think it’s possible with the right investment, and it will be great.”
Dunne and Moynihan were approximately 21 under for the 35 holes they played over the two days to take the $240,000 first-place prize.
They didn’t give France much of a chance in the final. They birdied the first hole when Dunne hit his approach to three feet. They were conceded an eagle at the par-5 third after Lorenzo-Vera hit an approach shot into a bush. Two up after three was enough to get the job done.
“We just felt we could birdie every hole in this format,” Dunne said.
They nearly did. Gwk