The 2018 European Championships is under way, bringing together the existing European Championships of athletics, aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon, with golf included as the only new event. With the action in the European Golf Team Championships beginning on Wednesday, we shine a spotlight on three teams competing in the men’s championship that may just take centre-stage.
Great Britain 3
Great Britain will be represented by three different men’s teams at Gleneagles Resort, and notably one all-Scottish pairing will take up the mantle in the pursuit of victory at home.
Connor Syme - Hailing from Drumoig – just an hour from Gleneagles – 23 year old Syme is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s rising stars. He won the 2016 Australian Amateur Championship and climbed to as high as World Number Eight in the amateur rankings before securing his European Tour card at Qualifying School last year. He has previous experience in team golf, and turned professional after competing for Great Britain & Ireland in the 2017 Walker Cup – the biennial competition against the United States that is considered the pinnacle of an amateur golfer’s career.
Liam Johnston - The 25 year old will be feeling comfortable with the match play format – he already has one professional win under his belt this season after taking the title at the Andalucia Costa del Sol Match Play 9 on the European Challenge Tour in May. With that victory, Johnston demonstrated his cool head in high-stakes competition as he beat out his friend, and fellow countryman, Grant Forrest in the finals of the head-to-head format. Together with Syme, the youthful pairing will have plenty of firepower at their disposal.
They are one of the oldest combined teams in the event, and with an Olympic athlete in their ranks, Portugal will be aiming to put their wealth of experience of representing their nation to good use at Gleneagles.
José-Filipe Lima - French by birth before adopting his parents’ Portuguese nationality, Lima rose to become the top-ranked amateur golfer in France before turning professional in 2002. A winner on the European Tour, Lima represented Portugal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, as well as in a team format at the World Cup of Golf in 2005. He has six professional titles to his name, and his winning know-how will be crucial this week.
Ricardo Santos - Santos earned his first European Tour win at the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal in 2012, which made him the first-ever Portuguese golfer to triumph on home soil. Later that year, he received the European Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award. The 36 year old brings 12 years of professional experience to his country’s pairing, and will no doubt feel comfortable in the team environment, having represented Portugal at the World Cup of Golf in 2008, 2011 and 2013.
In a nation of less than 400,000 people, you might not think that Iceland would have a wealth of golfing talent to draw from, but make no mistake, the Nordic island nation will be represented by a talented duo who are capable of going all the way.
Birgir Hafthorsson - A winner last year on the European Challenge Tour, the 42 year old comes from good golfing stock, with his uncle, Sveinn Arsalsson, winning the first-ever national championship in Iceland. With over 20 years as a professional under his belt, Hafthorsson will bring valuable experience in international competition to his team.
Axel Boasson - the 28 year old will provide a tremendous compliment to Hafthorsson’s experience, as he brings both youthfulness and pedigree to the Iceland team. Last year, Boasson notched two wins and a total of 11 top tens on his way to becoming the first-ever Icelandic winner of the Nordic Golf League Rankings, which earned him a promotion to the European Challenge Tour for this season.