Kenwick Park golfer Sam Done right at home on England debut

Sam Done (middle) with England team-mates and coaches in Spain EMN-190128-125457002
Sam Done (middle) with England team-mates and coaches in Spain EMN-190128-125457002

Frustration was mixed with immense pride as Sam Done made an assured start to what he hopes could be a lengthy England career.

Done made his international debut as part of a six-man senior England squad sent to take on select amateur teams from across Europe in the annual Costa Ballena Octagonal match in Spain.

Sam Done ended the season with a European amateur golf ranking of 126th

Sam Done ended the season with a European amateur golf ranking of 126th

The national team made the trip looking to improve on last year’s third-place finish, but came up short in a strong group before finishing with a flourish, thrashing Portugal in a seventh/eighth-place play-off.

The play-off results underlined the difficulties of England’s draw, with all of the four Blue Group B sides beating their Red Group counterparts.

“The result was disappointing, but when we looked back on it as a team we had a very tough group with Spain, Germany and Finland,” Done said.

“Having beaten Finland on the first day, to not go on and win either of the next two matches, having been in a strong position at some stage in both, was frustrating.

“The last day we showed how strong we were as a team with all five players winning our singles.”

He added: “Personally it was a similar story for me. I was happy with how I played, and had a good chance to win all my matches.

“But of the four singles, to only get one-and-a-half points was frustrating, having gone down the last in my matches against Spain and Germany.”

The Kenwick Park ace began in good style in the opening foursomes against Finland when he and team-mate Jake Bolton saw off the challenge of Matias Honkalat and Jonatan Jolkkonen 2 and 1.

Done suffered his heaviest defeat of the week in the singles, losing 3 and 2 against Eemil Alajarvi, but the team took the singles three-and-a-half to two-and-a-half to seal an overall five-and-a-half to three-and-a-half match victory.

England carried the positive momentum into the following morning as they dominated hosts Spain in the foursomes, two-and-a-half to a half, with Done and Joe Long halving their 18 holes against Sergio Parriego and Adrian Mata.

Done took Parriego all the way to the 18th in their singles match, but lost 1-up as the eventual champions turned the match on its head, claiming five-and-a-half of the six points to win 6-3.

The 21-year-old maintained his unbeaten foursomes record as he and Long halved once again in the final group match against German pair Luc Breur and Christian Hellwig as England again led going into the decisive singles, 2-1.

Done halved his match against Hellwig, but the Germans took four-and-a-half points to claim the overall win, five-and-a-half to three-and-a-half, and leave England bottom.

But Done and co finished the three-day tournament on a high note, defeating Portugal in a final play-off match to seal seventh place overall.

The Louth golfer turned in the performance of the week to blitz Pedro Cruz Silva 6 and 5 and take his personal points tally to a highly respectable three-and-a-half out of seven.

Despite his frustrations, Done felt at home in the international arena and hopes there could more caps to come.

“There were lots of positives for the week,” he said.

“My game improved as the week went on, proving to myself that I’m very capable of competing at that level, even when I wasn’t quite at my best.

“Hitting the first shot for my country at the tournament was great, as was winning my first foursomes match 2 and 1 after being three-down.

“Playing well in pressure situations when you know you have to hit good shots was also very pleasing, but finishing with a 6 and 5 victory in my final game against Portugal, to earn my first singles point for my country was a great feeling for me.”