Debut delight for Gregory on England bow
Scott Gregory helped repel a French fightback that threatened to ruin his England debut on the Lancashire links at Formby over the weekend.
England ran out the victors by 14 points to 10 after two days of foursomes and singles.
But it required nerves of steel, as well as some mightily impressive skill from both sides before the hosts could claim the spoils with another superb showing in the Sunday singles.
The players were certainly inspired by a good luck message sent from Masters champion Danny Willett, who played in the France fixture back in 2009 before turning pro.
Gregory was picked to partner Somerset’s Josh Hilleard in the foursomes.
And the pair, who both started the season in the England A squad, got off to a fast start beating highly-regarded Ko Jeong-Weon and Adrien Pendaries in the final match of the first morning, which turned into a birdie fest.
The Corhampton player holed a 30-footer on the 12th for a three.
But the French made a three on the 15th after hitting two drives into a gorse bush.
The visitors found the first ball and cheekily chipped it out before holing an approach shot from 120 yards for a birdie when they were looking at racking up a big number if it had been declared lost.
The teams exchanged blows on the 16th and 17th before Hilleard hit his approach into the last to seven feet to seal their point.
Despite the victory, England went into lunch trailing by a point after they lost the top two matches.
In his opening singles clash, Gregory was already five down at the turn to Ugo Coussaud – even though he had covered the front nine in level par.
But the 21-year-old showed why he reached the final of the Spanish Amateur in March with a stirring comeback.
He holed his 55-yard pitch on the 11th for a birdie three.
Some solid pars on the next few tricky holes saw Gregory cut the deficit to two before the par five 17th.
A fine second left him with a 12-footer for eagle to take the match down the last.
But the putt lipped out and he was forced to shake Coussaud’s hand for his first defeat in a full international.
Gregory linked up with Hilleard again to take on Coussaud and Pendaries in the Sunday morning foursomes – with the match poised at 6-6.
The Hampshire man, who was fourth in the European Amateur Championship last season, hit the best three-wood of his life to set up a three on the third.
But some scruffy golf meant it was all square at the turn.
The England duo gathered themselves, though, and quickly took a 2-0 lead before a nine-footer from Gregory conserved that lead before they clinched a 3&1 win on the 17th.
The home team led by two points after the morning session.
Gregory was last out in the crucial singles where he faced Coussaud again.
A nip-and-tuck battle finally swung on the home ace’s favour with birdies on the 13th and 14th.
And the Frenchman eventually admitted defeat on the penultimate hole.