Match: Warwickshire v Staffordshire
Date: 4th September 2016
Venue: The Welcombe Golf Club
Captain: Stuart Bloxham
Our final league game of the year was a league decider against Staffordshire at The Welcombe Golf Club in Stratford.
With Warwickshire one point ahead of Staffordshire a draw or a win for the Bears would be enough to win the league.
The Welcombe Golf Club is a great match play venue with some tricky holes to negotiate especially over the last five holes. This proved to be the case and a truly exciting finish was in store.
Chris Laird, David Atkins, Gareth Jenkins, Ian Winstanley, Liam Phipps, Louie Pett, Matthew Cryer, Patrick Ruff, Rob Copperthwaite, Tom Ibbertson
First out was Matthew Cryer and Ian Winstanley who have proven to be a great partnership, with them taking on Jack Gaunt and Matt Fieldsend (Staffordshire’s number one pairing). Warwickshire were in control of this match and were dormie 4 up but with a couple of birdies from Staffs meant Warwickshire won 2&1.
Next out was Patrick Ruff and Louie Pett who were also in control of their match and won 2up. Just the start we needed.
Then it was the a new pairing of Dave Atkins and debutant Rob Copperthwaite who has had a great couple of months of golf and fully deserves his first cap. However it was a tough match with Warwickshire going down 4&3.
New pairing of Tom Ibbertson and Gareth Jenkins who both have plenty of experience at County golf proved too strong for their opponents and won early 4&3.
Last out was Chris Laird and Liam Phipps a pairing that normally produces the points, however not the case this time with a 4&3 loss.
Warwickshire 3 – 2 Staffordshire
With a one point lead going in to the afternoon singles matches it was evident that it was going to be a close finish.
Patrick Ruff went out number one against Jack Gaunt. This was a match that was always going to be close, however it was Patrick who came out on top with a great 1 up victory.
Then the tide began to change with Matthew Cryer and Gareth Jenkins both losing their matches meant the score was 4 -4 with it all to play for.
Ian Winstanley proved again what a class act he is and gained another point. This time beating Tom Hewitt 2&1.
Dave Atkins was playing against an inform Henry Sheridan-Mills who proved a little too strong with a fantastic up and down out of the bunker on the last to half the hole and win the match. Dave lost 1 down.
Warwickshire had five points in the bag and needing only two and a half more to secure the league. What was about to happen was something that I have never experienced in all my County days as a player or Captain. It started with Rob Copperthwaite’s match.
Rob after birding the 17th hole to go 1up hits a drive down the left side of the fairway. Staffordshire’s Ryan Brooks pushes his drive right. Rob hits his 2nd shot greenside left trap, Ryan flies it 30 yards over the green and clearly wasn’t happy as his club gained 50 yards between him and his bag. What happened next was quite unreal. Ryan from 30 yards pitches it in to win the hole and halves the match. This proved to be a very significant moment in the outcome of the game.
With us still fighting hard, next in was Louie Pett who showed some great grit and determination to earn another point by winning 2 up. A great performance on the day from Louie under pressure.
Warwickshire now have six and half points and only needing one more point from three matches still out on the course.
Liam Phipps was unable to secure any points with an uncharacteristic 3&2 defeat.
With two matches on the course it was Tom Ibbertson’s turn to come down the last hole all square. Tom splits the fairway and his opponent pushes his drive in the long grass on the right with his ball buried. He could only advance it 70 yards. Tom then plays a great 7 iron to 10ft, his opponent puts his 3rd shot 40ft from the flag……. With Tom looking odds on to win the hole and the league for Warwickshire his opponent does the impossible and holes the huge putt for a birdie! Meaning Tom needs to hole for eagle to win. Unfortunately Tom’s putt lipped out, resulting in a half match.
So with Chris Laird the only player left to try to secure a much need half point he was standing on the 18th tee 1 down against Freddie Sheridan-Mills. With the pressure telling, both players hit their tee shots out of bounds! (Albeit it took 15 minutes to decide if Freddies ball was oob – which it clearly was!) With it getting dark both players were playing their second ball from the fairway. Chris put his pin high just off the green with Freddie hitting the green. It meant Chris needed to chip in to give us a chance but unfortunately he was unable to do so resulting in a Staffordshire win.
Warwickshire 4 – 6 Staffordshire
Warwickshire 7 – 8 Staffordshire
This win for Staffordshire meant they won the league. It was a very exciting finish to the match and a truly character building one for Warwickshire as events outside of our control meant we were unable to cross the line.
Congratulations to Martin Crook and his Staffordshire team for winning the league. We will dust ourselves down and get back up to compete in the English County Finals at Sandwell Golf Club on the 23rd -25th September where our first match is against Yorkshire. Your support is very much welcomed.
I would also like to thank The Welcombe Golf Club for their hospitality throughout the day and presenting a golf course that delivered some excitement over the closing holes.
Thank you to Bob Harrison - President of Warwickshire, Matt Nixon, Nev Gardner Pete Clarke, John Duncombe for their help and support on the day and throughout the season.
And finally to the players who have been a great assist to Warwickshire Golf Union and it has been a pleasure and an honour to Captain you this season.