Warwickshire’s 2nd Team faced Leicestershire & Rutland in both team’s final pre-season friendly. The host was Longcliffe Golf Club, a heathland and somewhat hilly course, who can include themselves among a very small clutch of courses which opens with a par 3.
So to the morning foursomes, and first to tackle the uphill par 3 opening hole was familiar Maxstoke Park duo Antony Gascoigne and Paul Walker. Both men by their own admission were “under-golfed” and struggled to put together the quality of golf to match their opposition’s very steady play, and disappointingly would succumb 8&7.
Next off was Coventry Hearsall’s Sam Foster partnering Gary Greenway of Maxstoke Park, who faired considerably better and took an early advantage. The pair led 2 up with just 3 holes to play when a Leicestershire Lost ball on the 16th signaled the end, a 3 and 2 Warwickshire victory, well done both.
Unfortunately for Warwickshire this was the only good news in a frustrating morning of foursomes golf, as matches 3, 4 and 5 all went in Leicestershire and Rutland’s favour. Match 3: Stratford upon Avon Golf Club pair Morgan Jackson and Rob Copperthwaite were defeated 8&7. Match 4: Coventry’s Danny Launchbury and Handsworth’s Ahmed Ismail narrowly lost on the last hole, 1down thanks to an L&R birdie. And finally Nuneaton’s Ryan James and Stoneleigh Deer Park’s Neville Gardner never really got going, falling behind early and were eventually defeated 5&4.
With much to ponder, the Team regrouped over lunch, understanding if Warwickshire were to make a match of it, we would need an almost unprecedented performance in the afternoon’s singles. Surely not?
With all the singles on the golf course, early signs were positive for Warwickshire with narrow leads in several of the matches. However the first match to finish was Antony Gascoigne in Match 1 who was unable to match his opponents sub-par performance losing 6&5. Then followed 2 solid half points from match 2 (Sam Foster), and match 3 (Paul Walker), although both had chances to claim a full point but 3 putts on Longcliffe’s undulating final green would cost them both this chance.
A quick check on the scores meant Warwickshire required 6 of the final 7 points to claim an unlikely win.
Cue evidence of Warwickshire’s infamous never say die attitude, with wins from Gary Greenway (2up), Morgan Jackson (5&4), Ryan James (2&1) making the score 7-5 to L&R. We could only afford to lose one of the final 4 matches. Fantastic wins for Rob Copperthwaite (3&2) and Neville Gardner (6&4) balanced out very narrow defeats for Danny Launchbury (1down) and Ahmed Ismail (2&1), and Warwickshire had come up agonisingly short, an 8-7 defeat.
Non-the-less Warwickshire had valiantly fought back from the brink of a hefty defeat, and actually in hindsight we probably should even have won! All Players showed their grit and talent on a tricky day against a very strong Leicestershire & Rutland Team, who we wish all the best for the upcoming season ahead.
My thanks to Longcliffe Golf Club for hosting us perfectly throughout the day, and to Graham and Glenda Hayes for their support.
Also a final thank you to The Warwickshire players, whose determination was so abundantly evident and will stand us in good stead for the long and demanding season ahead, when we try and retain the 2nd Team League Title.
Warwickshire 2nd Team Captain