Hearsall Golf Club was the setting for the Warwickshire 2ndteams opening league match of the 2018 campaign.
The course looked superb and the weather was perfect for good golf. Most of the Worcestershire players had travelled up the night before and played a practice round on the Saturday evening. Thanks to Worcestershires pre-match reconnaissance the home advantage had almost been reversed, with Worcestershire already tuned into the very fast greens with some tricky hole positions.
Leading the way for Warwickshire was Paul Walker and Gaz Greenway and after being 1 up through 7 they found themselves 1 down after 12. Fighting back they stood on the last tee all square. Both teams found trouble and a half in bogey 5s on the 18thsaw the first match of the day finish all square.
Next out were Ryan James and Chris Staite and this game was close all the way round. A huge turning point came on 15, with the Warwickshire boys on the Par 5 green in two and Worcestershire had a tricky approach as they were short sided over a bunker. Worcestershire played a great approach but were still some 15 feet away above the hole. However, the Worcestershire player managed to hole it and a Warwickshire 3 putt saw that hole get away and eventually led to a 2&1 defeat.
Third pairing of Chris Laird and Stephen Creed were fighting hard but stood on the 18thtee 1 down.
With Worcestershire on the centre of the green for two Chris was left with a 50 yard pitch for the required birdie. It was a fantastic effort, but the par 4 for Worcestershire sealed a 1 hole victory.
Looking to stem the tide of losing matches were Harry Ibbertson and Neville Gardner but despite being in touch with their opponents through the turn eventually would succumb to a 3&2 defeat.
The same fate would be heading the way of Warwickshire final pairing of Dan Launchbury and Ben Goodison who despite fighting hard could not get back on level terms with their opponents and would lose out 3&2.
So, Worcestershire had stormed the foursomes 4.5 to 0.5 and the Warwickshire guys were a little shell shocked over lunch. But having adjusted to the firm and fast conditions by now the players were ready to give it all in the hope of a fight back.
Warwickshire needed to apply some pressure early and leading the singles was Stephen Creed. He was playing Bobby Campbell of Worcestershire and this was a close game all the way with Bobby and Worcestershire eventually running out 1 up winners with solid golf throughout the round.
In match 2 Ryan James had started fast with 5 birdies in the first 7 holes to be 4 up. He continued to play well and earned the first Warwickshire singles point with a 3&2 win.
Gary Greenway in match 3 was also making significant gains and was 3 up through the turn. A great birdie 4 on the 15thwould see Gary close out his win 4&3.
Paul Walker was in a hard-fought game but dug deep to stay in front under great pressure to close out his match 2&1 and with 3 wins out of the first 4 matches a fightback was on.
Chris Laird was next out and again this match was close for the majority of the round. Paul Reeves for Worcestershire however was resolute and composed and won the point for Worcestershire 2&1.
Worcestershire were now within a point of victory and the news from the tail was not looking promising with both Neville and Dan behind.
Appearing now though walking towards the mass of players and officials was Ben Goodison playing at 9. He had gone bogey free to be -5 in beating his opponent 7&6.
Chris Staite was next in the actual order and his match with Russ Ager was fun to watch. Russ making a great birdie 2 on 17 to level the match. The 18th proved tricky again and both players couldn’t find the par required to win the hole and so a halved match was recorded.
Nev Gardner playing at 10 had now also appeared walking back and his 5&4 defeat had confirmed the Worcestershire win on the day.
With the game lost Warwickshire continued to fight on as every point can count as we progress through the season.
Harry Ibbertson showed these fighting qualities in recording a fine 2&1 victory against a strong opponent.
The last remaining singles was match 8 in which Dan had been behind throughout. Fighting all the way he got his game to the last at one down, but in what was a bit of a theme on the day and unfortunate 3 putt from the back edge meant a bogey and a defeat.
Warwickshire had managed to win the singles 5.5 to 4.5 but the deficit from the foursomes had given Worcestershire a 9 – 6 victory.
Whilst this result is very disappointing and certainly not the start I had hoped for I must give credit to the Worcestershire captain (Steve Bird) and the Worcestershire players who played a great match, prepared well and had us on the back foot virtually all day. The match was played in a wonderful sporting spirit and Worcestershire have a great set of lads who I am sure will continue to do well as the season progresses.
Congratulations to them on a fully deserved victory.
The Warwickshire 2nds hadn’t tasted defeat for some time and this can hopefully serve as a small wake up call to us all. Our next match is away at Ludlow (where our squad will be playing the course the evening before the match). It will be interesting to see if we perform any better in the morning foursomes having played the course so recently.
My thanks to Bob Harrison, John Stubbings, Chris Leonard and Antony Gascoigne for their support on the day and to Hearsall Golf Club who presented the course as beautifully as we have come to expect over the last few years.
Also a massive thank you to all the Warwickshire players who toiled, grafted and fought all the way to our eventual defeat. Whilst this loss does sting a bit, it is onwards and upwards and on to our next league match – where we can start a new unbeaten run all being well.
2nd Team captain