- Jacques Léglise Trophy
Jacques Léglise Trophy
The Jacques Léglise Trophy is an annual amateur boys’ team competition which is played between Great Britain & Ireland and the Continent of Europe. It’s a 2-day match play event which is organized by the R&A and the European Golf Association, with participants selected by each of the governing bodies.
Currently, teams comprise nine players on each side and, since 2015 at Royal Dornoch, the match format is four foursomes in the morning on both days, with eight singles in the afternoon on Day 1 and nine singles in the afternoon on Day 2. One point is awarded for a win and a ½ point for a tie so there’s 25 points to play for in total.
The tournament had its origins in the international boys match between England and Scotland which was played for many years on the Saturday before the Boys’ Amateur Championship. At Moortown in 1958, this match took place on the Friday and a combined England and Scotland team played Europe on the Saturday.
Unfortunately, these matches were usually one-sided affairs in favour of the Scots and the English – the only close result was the 8-7 match at Olton in 1960 – so it was decided to discontinue the event after it was again staged at Moortown in 1966 and had ended in a resounding 10-2 victory for the home team.
Eight venues were used for the England & Scotland v Europe matches between 1958 and 1966 (Dalmahoy, Moortown, Olton, Pollok, Prestwick, Formby, Gullane and Royal Mid-Surrey) with only the latter three clubs hosting the new event in subsequent years.
In 1977, Jean-Louis Dupont, who was the president of Golf de Chantilly from 1980 to 2001, donated a trophy for competition in memory of Jacques Léglise, a former French champion and captain who had served as President of the French Golf Federation and of the European Golf Association. It was decided to resurrect the boys’ fixture to contest this trophy annually.
The first edition of the new tournament was played as a one-day match at Downfield in 1977, with Continental Europe defeating a Great Britain & Ireland side that included (Scots journalist) John Huggan and (Welsh professional) Mark Mouland by the narrow margin of 7-6. The Europeans then repeated this feat by the exact same score line at Seaton Carew the following year.
Sadly for the visiting team, they would only win one more match in the next seventeen editions – again at Seaton Carew in 1986 – as the competition was hosted at a variety of clubs in Scotland and England. Neither a youthful Henrik Stenson in 1994 not Sergio Garcia in 1995 were unable to turn the tide in favour of Europe during that long unsuccessful spell.
Since 1996 at Woodhall Spa, the European team has more than held its own against Team GB&I, winning or halving eleven of the next twenty-five editions – though players such as Eduardo Molinari (Villa d’Este in 1998), Nicolas Colsaerts (Burnham & Berrow in 1999), Matteo Manaserro (Kingsbarns in 2008) and John Rahm (Neguri in 2011) never managed to get their hands on the trophy as part of a winning team.
By way of contrast, Nick Dougherty was on the winning side for GB&I in 1998 and 1999, with fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood also helping his side to secure victory in 2007 and 2008. In more recent times, Matthew Fitzpatrick was on the wrong end of a 13½-10½ defeat at Portmarnock in 2012.
A welcome development since the end of the 1990s is having the match hosted on the continent, allowing countries like the Czech Republic (Royal Marianske Lazne in 2006) and Finland (Kytäjä Golf in 2018) to promote their top tracks in the international arena.
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