ENC - Of Hamster Balls & Making Out With Matadors

Sweden won its first ever European Nations Cup today at La Sella Resort in Dénia, Alicante Spain. Anna Nordqvist and Sophie Gustafson were completely in synch; each did exactly what was called for to produce the eagle needed to force a playoff.

In Gustafson's case it was an extraordinary approach shot with a seven-wood from 212 yards... which Nordqvist followed with a steely six foot putt... on the 448-yard par-five 18th hole. That gave the pair a 68 and put them into a playoff with the Australian team of Karrie Webb and Karen Lunn. Three holes later Sweden won with a birdie when Webb hit a perfect 20 foot putt that just didn't drop. Veronica Zorzi and Giulia Sergas finished third, further demonstrating Italy's growing place in International golf.

The Comunitat Valenciana European Nations Cup featured 18 teams and prize money of €350,000. the format was fourball on the first and third days and "Valencian Cup" where, "where the players tee off then switch and play their partner’s ball for the next shot (on par 4s) and for the next two shots (on par 5s) before selecting the best ball and completing the hole in alternate shot (foursome) format. On par 3s the best tee shot is selected before completing the hole with the same ball in alternate shots."

Australian and the USA were the only countries outside of Europe represented. Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon made up the US team and shared a fifth place finish with France.

By all accounts, this tournament, now in its fourth year, is particularly festive and light-hearted, and a favorite among players, sponsors and fans. Ms. Mallon's intimate interlude with Oscar Higares, a swarthy Spanish matador, would certainly seem to support that. Apparently the impromptu make out session came as the hall-of-fame golfer entertained the audience at the tournament's opening dinner. Can you say: The Sun Also Rises?

The fun continued a couple of nights later when the players climbed into a clear plastic bubble know as a hamster ball... and floated around the swimming pool in it.

The Ladies European Tour website has the whole story and lots more photos, you can also check out the tournament site.

Meanwhile, I think I'll go re-read some Hemingway.