Ireland's Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan overcame strong competition and combined to win the second edition of GolfSixes with a 2-0 victory over France. Meanwhile, ladies golf proved the big winner at GolfSixes as Mel Reid declares it a huge success for women's golf...
Once again the European Tour's GolfSixes proved to be a success in it's second outing, with crowds dominated by youngsters, and the addition of two female-only teams that more than played their part. For winner Moynihan, he declared it the most fun he'd had on a golf course since he turn professional.
Dunne and Moynihan were the final wildcard entrants into the second edition of the innovative event and lost just one of their six matches over two days in St Albans, ensuring it was the best team that claimed the title.
Having finished top of Group C on Saturday, the pair combined for birdie or better on 12 of the 17 holes they played on Sunday, beating a strong England Women team, followed by victory over South Korea and the French.
The only match Ireland lost all week was in their group pairing to Mike-Lorenzo Vera and Romain Wattel, but the repeat for the final went the way of the Irish. A birdie on the 1st and eagle on the 3rd gave them a 2-0 advantage, ending the match on the 5th by halving the hole with two birdies.
While Dunne is already an established name on the European Tour, winning the British Masters last September, Moynihan remained relatively unknown until this week, having had missed all eight of his European Tour cuts since graduating from Q-School last year.
For him, the 200,000 euro winning prize with Dunne is a huge confidence booster, and his 2015 Walker Cup teammate was quick to praise his golf this week.
"When you have the tricolour besides your name it becomes a little bit more serious," said Dunne. "We're happy to represent Ireland well, have a nice trophy under the belt and it kind of sets well to kick on for the rest of the season.
"It's an individual game and it's nice to get together with a partner, especially like Gavin, who I've been friends with for a long time and have success like this.
"We just played really solid all week. Gavin was hitting some amazing iron shots and, obviously, the pivotal moment for us was him chipping in on the play-off against the South Koreans."
Moynihan added: "We know each other's games so well and we're comfortable with each other. We had a game plan coming in and the course set up well for us, I think. We had fun. Honestly it was the best fun I've had on the golf course since I've turned pro. It was a great few days."
And he wasn't the only one to vocalised the fun they had this week. Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace embraced the event with retro England tops and a great attitude, pairing up to top their group before falling to France 2-0 in the quarter finals.
The addition of two ladies teams, and a mixed team of Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup Captains Catriona Matthew and Thomas Bjorn was welcomed from the outset, but what happened on the course was a sublime showcase of women's golf.
The first shot of the tournament by Charley Hull (partnering Georgia Hall for an England Women's team) nearly found the bottom of the cup for an ace, and had opposition Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace (Team England men) running from the stadium. And that set really set the precedent for the play of both female teams, the other being made up of Solheim Cup teammates Mel Reid and Carlota Ciganda for a European Women's team.
The Hull/Hall combination halved the final hole in eagles against Pepperell/Wallace to finish that match 1-1, and went on to progress to the quarter-final stage with a 4-1 win over South Africa and a 2-1 loss to Sweden. Meanwhile, Reid/Ciganda defeated Thailand 3-1, tied with Denmark 1-1, and lost to the USA 2-1, progressing through to the quarter-finals after defeating Denmark in a playoff.
Both teams lost 2-0 in the quarter finals (England's women to Ireland and Europe's Women to Australia), but to have pitted them against the men and progresssed so far in the contest meant it was nothing but a positive outcome for the women.
"I think it's a huge success for women's golf," Mel Reid said of GolfSixes. "We've hopefully opened a few more eyes to women's golf and that we can compete and that we are pretty good at what we do and we work very hard at what we do. Hopefully it's inspired not just a few more young girls but young guys and men, women, all over to take up the game. That's ultimately what we want to do.
"We got a lot of exposure and that's what we need. We don't get that. So it's been really, really good for women's golf, which hopefully helps it because it needs help.
"Loads of the girls in America have been saying how much they have enjoyed watching it and Lydia Ko has already messaged us saying she's absolutely desperate to get on a team next year."
Following the 2-0 loss to Australia, Ciganda added: "I think it's been great for women's golf, just the two teams that we made it until Sunday. They just played better and that's just golf. We are happy with the way we played and we gave it everything we had. That's just golf."