Friendly: Warwickshire v Leicestershire & Rutland
Date: 25thMarch 2018
Venue: Sutton Coldfield Golf Club
Captain: Stuart Bloxham
Our first friendly of 2018 was against Leicestershire & Rutland at Sutton Coldfield Golf Club.
With the weather conditions we’ve had lately and the dull forecast due over the Easter holidays it was a great surprise to see the sun all day and feel the warmth on a golf course in fantastic condition. Sutton Coldfield is a heathland course with true greens in a stimulating but tranquil setting, one that the players were eager to get out and play.
Chris Laird, Ian Winstanley, Joe Mcilwraith, Liam Phipps, Rhys Lawrence, Rob Copperthwaite, Tom Cleaton, Tom Ibbertson, Mike Pell, Sam Foster
With the absence of Max Martin who is recovering from major surgery, (get well soon) it was Rhys Lawrence (Hearsall) who lead the team out with Liam Phipps. (Olton) A strong pairing up against L&R’s number one pairing of Coby Cartwright and Chris Brook. This was a game full of top quality golf and with the Warwickshire pair 2 under gross after 6 holes and 2 down, it proved to be the case. The game flowed with a tremendous amount of birdies with Rhys and Liam turning the game round to take a 4 up lead but L&R not giving up and getting a couple back, meant the game went to the 18th. Fortunately we went on to win the 18th and the match with a 2 up victory.
Next out was the experienced Ian Wintstanley (Handsworth) and the old head on young shoulders of Tom Cleaton (Rugby) who both played some faultless golf in what was a true test. After being all square after 6 and up against some excellent holing out, they soon took control of the game on the back nine. A fine performance meant the Warwickshire pair went on to win their match 4&3. Well played.
After a great start from Warwickshire the tired started to turn a little. The Hearsall pairing of Sam Foster and Tom Ibbertson were unable to continue the point scoring in a hard fought match resulting in a 2&1 defeat, which was quickly followed by a heavy defeat of Chris Laird and Rob Copperthwaithe meaning that the last game on the course was key as to which team went in for lunch feeling the happier.
This came down to the Olton pairing and Deputy Mike Pell and Joe Macilwraith. With a 1 up lead going down 16 meant it was looking good for Warwickshire, however a couple of unfortunate mistakes quickly changed things around. All square down the last, with a 4ft putt for par, it was L&R who managed to secure the point and took the morning foursomes.
Warwickshire 2 – 3 Leicestershire & Rutland
After a very quick turnaround at lunch and the players knowing what they had to do we were soon back out for the afternoon singles.
To lead the team out was the sublime Liam Phipps who quickly took control of his match gaining a 3 up lead after 9 and playing some tremendous golf from tee to green and holing putts for fun, a truly winning combination. Liam closed his match out with a great 4&3 victory.
Rhys Lawrence was also is the same form, with great ball striking and hardly ever missing a fairway he too was 3 up after 9 holes. With is playing partner still fighting, Rhys had to play the patient game, which he duly did and held on to his lead finishing on the 16thwith a 3&2 win. Great performance.
This meant that Warwickshire had regained the lead and it was time to push hard which we truly did.
Tom Cleaton who was very impressive all day, produced some sterling golf from tee to green constantly asserting pressure on his opponent. Tom edged ahead after 9 holes and continued to push hard finishing with a 3&2 victory against a very tough opponent, which was a great result for Tom.
With Warwickshire on the move it was Tom Ibbertson who was also in control of his match and with an astonishing 8 birdies in 17 holes was enough to win his match 3&1. A great performance from trusted source.
The points didn’t stop there and with Joe Macilwraith up against L&R Captain Martin Anderson. Joe produced possibly the finest singles display of the afternoon winning 5&4. Joe looked solid from tee to green and with his magic wand of a putter working, there was no stopping him. Great performance.
With 7 points in the bag it was left to Ian Winstanley to get the point that got Warwickshire over the line. A superb performance and an eagle on 13 holing out with a wedge enabled him to win his game 3&2.
Four players were still out on the course, Mike Pell who was up in his match all the way round came up against a birdie run. The match was still in the balance going down 18 all square, an unfortunate second shot caught a branch meant the best he could do was a 5 which wasn’t enough and went down losing 1dn. A fine performance on his debut with many more to come I am sure.
Sam Foster ran into trouble early in his match but fought hard from 4 down to unfortunately lose his game on the 17th. The greenside right hand bunker wasn’t his favourite as both this matches ended at that point.
Rob Copperthwaite quickly put Warwickshire back on winning ways and shrugged off his morning defeat with a great display of grit, determination and quality to close his game out early with a fantastic 5&4 win.
With the last game still on the course, Chris Laird was 4up with 6 to play and playing much better golf that he did in the morning, however his opponent Chris Brook wasn’t finished who fought back very well to squeeze a half out of the game. Which I am sure he would have taken if offered on the 13th. There’s a lot of positives Chris can take from this and I am sure will bounce back in his next game.
A fantastic singles performance from Warwickshire, with lots of positives we can take from this going into the season.
Warwickshire 7.5 – 2.5 Leicestershire & Rutland
Warwickshire 9.5 – 5.5 Leicestershire & Rutland
I would like to wish Martin and his team all the best for the season. I would also like to thank Sutton Coldfield for looking after us and producing a golf course in fantastic condition.
Finally thanks to Graham Barton President of Warwickshire, Pete Clarke and John Stubbings for their support on the day.