EUROPEAN TEAM SHIELD CHAMPIONSHIP 2023 – MALTA WINS SILVER
The Malta National Golf Team competed in the 9th edition of the ETSC which was played at the International Olympic Academy Golf Course in Costa Navarino, Greece.
Team Malta’s make-up saw a slight deviation from previous years. Ruud Critien and Laurens Schulze Doering retained their place in the team and were accompanied by Oliver Stuart and Liam Debattista who were totally new to the competition. The team had the expertise of Andy Borg who took on the role of a non-playing team captain and was accompanied by the MGA President, William Beck.
Ten other teams entered the competition – all hailing from developing golf countries. These were Albania, Andorra, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Serbia and Ukraine.
The competition started on Tuesday with a practice round, followed by a qualifier stroke play round where the three best gross scores from each team determined the route of the subsequent match play rounds on the subsequent three days to determine the final placings.
The Malta Golf Team teed it off on Wednesday in the qualifying round. Laurens was first off followed by Ruud; Liam and Oliver. With respective scores of level par, +6, +8 and +9 for an aggregate team score of +14, the team placed second. This meant that Malta played Serbia in the first round of the matchplay knockout stages.
The match play format of the tournament saw Ruud Critien and Liam Debattista teeing it up first as a foursomes pair followed by Laurens Schulze Doering and Oliver Stuart in the individual matches. Two wins out of three matches assured the team made it through to the semifinals.
Malta’s next opponents were Bulgaria who won against Luxembourg. The other semi-finalists were Cyprus and Greece (last year’s winners) who won against Liechtenstein and Albania respectively.
Andy Borg, as team captain, decided to retain the same team make up as the quarter final round with Ruud Critien and Liam Debattista teeing it up first as a foursomes pair followed by Laurens Schulze Doering and Oliver Stuart in individual matches.
The foursome pair struggled to put together a string of good golf which saw them going three down in the early stages of the match. They managed to claw back up to only 1 down at the end of the 12th hole which position was retained whilst they were playing the 16th hole. Oliver secured an emphatic 6&5 win. Laurens was down early but managed to bring it all square at the 9th hole. From there, Laurens found his best game and won his match 4&3. With these two wins out of three, Malta’s fate into the final was secured and was signaled to the foursomes match ahead. In a spirit of sportsmanship, the Malta pair conceded their match at that point.
This meant Malta progressed into the final for the third successive year. They faced Greece who won against Cyprus. Cyprus and Bulgaria battled it out for the bronze medal.
A change in the team make up in the final saw the foursomes partnership of Ruud Critien and Oliver Stuart who teed off first and went on to win their match by one hole.
Liam Debattista fought hard against his opponent, but eventually went down 2&1.
This left Laurens Schulze Doering to battle it out in his match and to try and clinch the gold medal for Malta. A close match which went down to the last hole, however the victory went to the Greeks.
This meant Greece defended their Gold Medal and the European Team Shield from last year.
In the battle for third place, Cyprus overcame Bulgaria and took home the bronze medal.
Since the inauguration of this Championship back in 2015, Malta has won four bronze medals and four silver medals.
Malta Golf Association