European Team Championship 2020

My first European Team Championship starts on Tuesday 08 September on the Hilversumsche golf course in the Netherlands. Last year I was not selected for the team that won the title in the second division and was promoted to Division 1. This year I am the highest ranked Swiss player in the World Ranking and in the annual swiss ranking so I can go to the European Team Championships in the Netherlands. This year our team consists of only four players (Ronan Kleu, Nicola Gerhardsen, Robert Foley, Mauro Gilardi).
In order to strengthen the team and to define who can/should form a Potential Foursome Team with whom, SwissGolf organizes a two-day preparation camp DO-FR on the golf course Wylihof, where we mainly play Matchplay, train and get a feel for it to be prepared.
After a two-day break between the camp and the European Championship, we meet in Zurich on Monday morning and arrive at the golf course in the early afternoon. No practice rounds can be played today as the course is closed. However, with the whole team we can already walk the course and get an impression of the layout and condition of the ground.
Every morning and evening there is a common activation training ( morning ) and stretching ( evening ) to wake up the body and activate all muscles or to relax afterwards.
Tuesday is the practice round, where we all together work out a tactic for the course and already try out different variations, so that the strategy can be adjusted depending on wind and weather.

Tournament schedule
On the first day of the tournament all four players play 18-hole stroke play. The three best results count and are summed up. Of the 16 teams, the best 8 teams qualify for the quarter-finals for the victory. The 9-16 placed teams will no longer fight for the victory, but for the 9th position. For this reason it is important to be qualified in the top 8 as a team so that you can play for the title. In the quarterfinals nations compete against nations. There will be two individual match plays and an additional foursome match play, resulting in a maximum of 3 points.

Day 1 (Strokeplay)
We are all starting in the Strokeplay round, and I am the last Swiss player to start.
I’m always up to date with what my team mates are playing and I always know where Switzerland is ranked at the moment. I play a solid round with few mistakes and a solid long game. The birdies don’t want to go into the hole, but I have to accept few bogeys. On hole 12 I know that it will be close if I finish the rest with PAR. Ronan ends his round with 2 under par and Robert with 2 over PAR. Currently I am 1 over PAR which would mean 8th place for the team. With Ronan as caddy I play very solid holes and I can play some birdies. In the end I finish my round with 1 Under PAR. I am very happy and know that thanks to the birdie on hole 17 the top 8 are safe. Finally we are on rank 5 as a nation, which means that tomorrow we will have the fourth placed (France) as our opponent.

Day 2 (Switzerland vs France)
Since Ronan and I have performed the best singles results, we will be competing against France in the singles. In the Foursome Robert and Nicola will play against the Foursome of the French. I am matched against Julien Sale (WAGR No. 77) and I know that it won’t be easy as I have already played with him in Austria and I know how solid he plays.
I start well into my match and after four holes I am 3 under PAR but just 1up. The whole round the game is very tight until I take the lead back on hole 12 and can hold the lead until hole 16.
With a birdie on hole 17 I win the match against France and get the second point for Switzerland, which means we have already won. Ronan finishes his match on hole 16 and the foursome takes the third point on the first extra hole.
So we are qualified and we already know that there will be a medal match immediately – the only question is which one it will be…

Day 3 (Switzerland vs Germany)
Germany has won the qualification round and is now facing us in the semi-finals. I play against Jannik de Bruyn (WAGR No. 55), who plays very solidly and only on hole one he makes a short mistake. I’m fighting the whole 18 holes and have a hard time to win holes. I am 3 down after 12 holes and I know that with a good fight I can still win the one or other hole. On hole 14 I manage a great birdie, but unfortunately it is not enough to win the hole, because we both hole a 6m + putt. On the following PAR 3 I play a good first stroke and know that the putt has to go into the hole now to get closer to the German. I hole my birdie putt and win the hole. Only 1 down on the 16th hole I play a good tee shot and prepare for the second stroke. At the same moment it is signalled to us that the Germans have already won two games and we don’t have to finish. The disappointment is big, because I was in a positive mood to turn this game around and get a victory.
So the Germans are going to the final with a great performance and we have to accept the fact that we are defeated. My match will be counted as a draw.

Day 4 (Switzerland vs Italy)
Today the bronze medal is being fought for. After some discussions the evening before, we will still stay in the same line-up and I will play again in the last singles against the Italian Gegorio De Leo (WAGR No. 200). I start the match very well and win the first three holes. On hole 4 the Italian plays an eagle and I lose the hole with a birdie. After 11 holes I am still 2up and know that Ronan has a tight match to play and the foursome match is a tied. I play birdie on hole 12 and share the hole. On hole 14 I play a solid PAR and win the hole. I look at the next green and see that Ronan is beaten, which means 1 point for Italy. On hole 15 I manage to tee off well and the Italian misses the green. I play a safe PAR without any risk, because this is enough to win the hole and to end the match on hole 15 – so the score is now 1:1.
I run from hole 15 to the clubhouse, hand in my scorecard and run straight back to hole 17 to help and support Nicola and Robert. The Italians play a great birdie on hole 17, which means we have to win the 18th hole to get to the extra hole. With a great 4 meter putt from Nicola he and Robert secure the birdie and win hole 18. The pressure on the 19th hole is high and Nicola misses his driver a little on the right. Robert plays through the trees to 35 meters and gets the maximum out of this position. The Italians play a solid third shot on the green and have a possible birdie chance. Nicola plays a phenomenal lob shot 2 meters to the flag which gives us an advantage. The Italian duo misses the birdie putt by a very small amount and we all know that this putt stands for victory and the bronze medal.

Robert stands at the ball and sinks the ball mercilessly into the hole. The joy is huge and there is a short celebration on the green. We thank the Italians for this super match and are very happy about the bronze medal.
In the restaurant we celebrate and realize what we have just achieved for us and for Switzerland. With a big closing ceremony the tournament will end and we are finally presented with our bronze medal.

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