Friendly: Northamptonshire v Warwickshire
Date: 22ndApril 2018
Venue: Wellingborough Golf Club
Captain: Stuart Bloxham
Our second and final friendly of 2018 was against Northamptonshire at Wellingborough Golf Club.
Wellingborough Golf Club, is a fantastic setting in 160 acres of fine rolling parkland and rich in history was in great condition, with a layout conducive to match play golf.
With the sun shining and a slightly earlier start time of 09:30 our players arrived nice and early ready for a true test of golf - and that’s what it turned out to be.
Chris Laird, David Atkins, Joe Macilwraith, Liam Phipps, Rhys Lawrence, Rob Copperthwaite, Sam Foster, Tom Cleaton, Tom Ibbertson, Mike Pell
First out were Liam Phipps and Tom Cleaton up against Northants strong pairing of Callum Farr and Mikey Chambers. This game was full of quality golf with the Northants pairing taking a 2 up lead going down the stretch, however not giving up, we got back into the game but unfortunately, we just ran out of holes with a 1 down defeat.
There was better news in the next match as Rhys Lawrence and Dave Atkins took an early lead and did not let it go. With some solid golf they didn’t look in any trouble and quickly crossed the winning line with a 4&3 victory. Well played guys.
With both teams taking a point after match 2, the tide started to swell towards Northants, with Chris Laird and Mike Pell going down 3&1 and Tom Ibbertson and Joe Macilwraith who lost to two birdies on the 16th and the very tough par 4 17th, resulting in a 2&1 defeat. This meant Warwickshire needed something out of the last match to stay in the game.
The last game proved to be a pivotal part of the day and it was Rob Copperthwaite and Sam Foster whose match was neck and neck all the way. Warwickshire had a couple of chances to take a lead down the stretch but the match was all square paying the short but extremely tricky 18thhole. With out of bounds right and water on the left this hole is all about the tee shot. Both teams hit perfect tee shots leaving 90 yards left to a raised two-tier green. With the pin on the front of the green, you didn’t want to be long. Northants left their shot 15ft short of the hole but Rob’s sublime pitch shot to 4 feet left Sam a very tricky downhill putt. With Northants missing their birdie putt it left the door open for Sam who trickled his putt into the centre of the hole and taking the match with a fantastic birdie and 1up win.
This proved to be a game changer and instead of potentially going in at lunch 4-1 down, the final morning standing finished 3-2 to Northants.
Northamptonshire 3 -2 Warwickshire
An easy team talk to the players at lunch time, in the magnificent grounds in the garden, meant it was game on……
An unusual start for Warwickshire in the singles with only getting a half point from Rhys Lawrence in the first 3 matches as Liam Phipps and Dave Atkins couldn’t quite get the job done with a 2&1 and 1down defeat respectively. This meant that Northants had 5.5 points to Warwickshire’s 2.5.
With 7 matches still on the golf course we needed 5.5 points so we really needed our mid / bottom order to come good.
Joe Macilwraith was the first player in with a birdie fest winning his match with a dog’s license 7&6. A great performance from Joe who’s golf is going from strength to strength.
Tom Cleaton was 2 up with two to play but a birdie from his opponent on the 17thmeant they were doing down the last. A cool head and two great shots later secured the victory for Tom and another point was on the board. It was a long hard-fought day for Tom after his 20-mile bike ride the night before! Well played.
The points started to get on the board for Warwickshire and with Chris Laird and Tom Ibbertson performing extremely well winning 4&3 and 3&2 meant we only needed a point to halve the match but we wanted more……
The news was good, with Sam Foster in control of his match moving from 3 up with three to play, to secure his well-earned second point of the day on the 16thwith a 3&2 victory securing Warwickshire the half with two players still to play.
Rob Copperthwaite was not himself and went down with a 3&2 defeat, which meant we only needed a 1/2 point from Mike Pell whose game was all square going down 17. This was going to be a true test of character and a tremendous 5 foot putt for half meant the game and the whole match was going down the last.
With the game all square a halved 18thhole would be enough for Warwickshire to claim a victory and with Mike knowing this he quickly put his driver back in the bag! An errant tee shot from Northants putting the ball in the water didn’t make Mikes shot any easier but a great 3 iron was just what he needed putting him in pole position and with his second shot on the green, two putts was enough to get mike and Warwickshire over the line. A great battle and performance with the pressure on his shoulders…. Great finish Mike!
This meant we had turned the game around and displayed grit and determination to win 8.5 – 6.5
Northamptonshire 3.5 – 6.5 Warwickshire
Northamptonshire 6.5 – 8.5 Warwickshire
I would like to wish Graham and his team all the best for the season. I would also like to thank Wellingborough GC for looking after us.
Finally, thanks to Graham Barton President of Warwickshire, for his excellent support and company for the day.