IT'S A BREEZE !
Match: Warwickshire v Shropshire & Herefordshire
Date: Sunday 7th August
Venue: Maxstoke Park
Captain: Pete Clarke
Our 4th match of the 2016 league campaign was at Maxstoke Park against a fully prepared Shropshire & Herefordshire side who had practised on the course the day before and stayed locally overnight.
Maxstoke Park was presented in very good condition with their typical mid-summer traits of fast running fairways allied to firm, fast greens. Another gloriously sunny day was compounded by a stiff (2 club) breeze that would test the striking ability of all of the players.
Team: Chris Blackmore (Maxstoke Park), Finlay Mason (Moor Hall), Gareth Jenkins (The Warwickshire), Liam Phipps (Olton), Matt Cryer (Coventry), Max Martin (Ladbrook Park), Pat Ruff (Sutton Coldfield), Paul Walker (Maxstoke Park), Rob Browning (Coventry), Tom Ibbertson (Hearsall).
First out was the regular pairing of Pat Ruff & Max Martin, their quality and understanding of each others game was too much for their opponents resulting in an opening 3 & 2 win for Warwickshire.
A fully rested Finlay Mason partnered Gareth Jenkins in the 2nd match onto the course, a very close match ensued with the result being decided on the notoriously hazardous final 2 holes. The match was all-square on the 17th fairway Gareth's approach shot was knocked down by the breeze into the front edge of the pond in front of the green. With their opponents on the green in 3 after chipping out of the trees, Finlay decides to take off his shoes and socks to splash out (see photo). Unfortunately his valiant effort still resulted in a loss of hole and with their opponents holing a excellent 20ft putt for a half at the last the match point went to S & H.
The 3rd pairing onto the course were Tom Ibbertson & Paul Walker, the logic being that the winner and runner-up in the Castle Cup should have too much course knowledge for any visitors. How wrong can you be ? Both players admitted to be a little out of sorts and a 6 & 5 humbling saw S & H gain their 2nd point.
The tried and trusted Coventry pairing of Matt Cryer & Rob Browning were out 4th and their quality and craft saw them ease to a 3 & 2 win to level the morning foursomes match score.
In the last morning foursomes match Liam Phipps was entrusted to partner Chris Blackmore on his County debut. A close match ensued that saw the Warwickshire pair walk off the 18th green with a narrow but crucial 1 up victory.
Warwickshire 3 - 2 Shropshire & Herefordshire
With only a narrow lead from the morning foursomes and knowing that their S & H opponents had practised on the course the day before, the Warwickshire players knew that they would have to battle hard in the singles to maintain their unbeaten 2016 league record.
First out was Pat Ruff, a close match saw Pat and his opponent reach the 17th all-square. A strategic approach shot by Pat to 30ft beyond the dangerously positioned short pin was followed by a sublime putt for a winning birdie to take a 1 up lead that he wouldn't relinquish at the last. First blood to Warwickshire.
Second out was Finlay Mason, whilst playing in his own words 'decent golf' he was beaten by an opponent that was just better on the day. A fabulous eagle finish and S & H had their first singles point of the afternoon.
Tom Ibberston fresh from the practice range where he and Paul Walker were hitting balls alongside tour professional Sam Walker during their unexpected long lunch break ground out a 2 & 1 win.
This was followed quickly by Max Martin who after bogeying the 1st had 5 birdies in the next 8 holes to cruise in 4 & 3 and with Matt Cryer (5 & 4) & Gareth Jenkins (6 & 4) both being too strong for their opponents the match was Warwickshire's. All that was now left to decide was the size of victory.
Rob Browning battled back from an indifferent start that saw him 2 down early on to win 3 & 2, Paul Walker followed him in with the same winning scoreline. Chris Blackmore would have the same scoreline reversed and Liam Phipps did exactly what was asked of him (bring the team home) with yet another 3 & 2 win.
Warwickshire 8 - 2 Shropshire & Herefordshire
Warwickshire 11 - 4 Shropshire & Herefordshire
I would like to thank Maxstoke Park for their hospitality throughout the day and presenting a golf course in excellent condition. To Sean McCarthy and his Shropshire & Herefordshire team for the spirit in which they play their golf and good luck for their last match of the season.
Finally my thanks to our President Bob Harrison and to John Stubbings for their support throughout the day.
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