Iceland turn up the heat to make golfing history
GLASGOW - Iceland's quartet of Valdis THORA JONSDOTTIR and Birgir HAFTHORSSON paired with Olafia KRISTINSDOTTIR and Axel BOASSON created golfing history on Saturday when they won the inaugural mixed team event at the Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course.
The Icelanders took the gold medal with an aggregate score of 141 over the 36 holes played by the two pairs. It was their country's first medal of the European Championships.
They took the main prize ahead of the British number three team Meghan MacLAREN and Liam JOHNSTON, and Michele THOMSON and Connor SYME who took the silver medal.
Iceland are the minnows of the golfing world. Golf on the island is played at midnight during the months of 24-hour sunlight and the courses are often damaged by volcanic rock from past eruptions as well as being attacked by Arctic terns if a ball lands near nests.
"Golf is growing all the time in Iceland," BOASSON said. "I wouldn't say it is the biggest professional sport we have, but it is played by the most people."
They could win another medal in the men's team event on Sunday when HAFTHORSSON and BOASSON compete in the semifinals against Spain's Santiago TARRIO BEN and David BORDA.
"We have a great chance of winning another gold medal tomorrow," HAFTHORSSON said."Why not? We are full of confidence."
The bronze medal went to Sweden's second team quartet of Johanna GUSTAVSSON and Oscar FLOREN, and Julia ENGSTROM and Daniel JENNERVRET after a sudden-death play off against Spain's Noemi JIMENEZ and Scott FERNANDEZ, and Silvia BANON and Pedro ORIOL.
GUSTAVSSON, who partnered FLOREN in the bronze decider, clinched the medal with a birdie putt from the fringe of the green on the first play off hole.
"I was quite nervous but I tried to stay calm," GUSTAVSSON said. "The ball picked up pace on the green but fortunately it hit the hole and went in."
On the side of the green the celebrations among the Swedes were in full cry. "I screamed so hard when the putt went in," ENGSTROM said. "It feels so amazing and I'm proud to win this medal."
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