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Date: 1stJuly 2018
Venue: Leamington & County Golf Club
Captain: Stuart Bloxham
Our third Midland League game of the season was against Staffordshire at Leamington & County Golf Club. Having won our two opening league matches, this game against a very strong Staffordshire County was going to be pivotal in our progression of retaining our league title. With the heatwave and golf course running fast it was going to come down to ball control and excellent short game on great greens. With a last-minute change to the team we were all ready to go into the heat of the battle.
Chris Laird, David Atkins, George Gill, Joe Mcilwraith, Mike Pell, Paul Walker, Rob Copperthwaite, Tom Cleaton, Tom Ibbertson, Steve Creed
Tom Ibbertson and Joe Macilwraith lead Warwickshire out for the first time against Ryan Brooks and Tom Hewitt. This was always going to be a close match and it turned out to be the case. The 16thtee shot is always going to be a key moment for any match and this wasn’t any different. With Warwickshire 2 up standing on the tee, Ryan went for the green with a 3 wood, it was a great strike, however a stern ‘No’ from Pete Clarke that would have got Margret Thatcher’s head turning was unfortunately correct as the flight was slightly left resulting in a lost ball. A great first point for Warwickshire in a high-quality game that saw plenty of birdies from both teams. Well played.
Next out was Mike Pell and Chris Laird. Another game that was nip and tuck but it was Staffs turn to win the game on the same hole resulting in a 3&2 defeat.
A share of the points in the opening two matches. However, things were about to get hot.
Back from exams, Tom Cleaton and George Gill showed how to play this golf course with a display of pure quality. Starting eagle, birdie, birdie, this game was going to be difficult for Staffs pairing of Simon Higgins and Sam Ruston. A continuation of birdies from the Warwickshire pair resulted in an impressive 7&5 win. A result that echoed around the course.
This was quickly followed by Dave Atkins and Paul Walker who again played great tee to green which was enough to win their match 3&2 and get that all important point on the board. Well played.
Domination of the foursomes was complete with the very steely pairing of Steve Creed and Rob Copperthwaite. A pairing that mirrors excellent short game finesse proved to be the winner. A gritty performance and a superb 25ft putt for a half on 15 by Rob, keep us in the game. With the game 1up playing the par 3 18th, Steve hit the perfect tee shot, 15ft from the flag leaving Staffs having to birdie to get a half. They were unable to do so leaving a shake of hands and a great 1up victory for the Warwickshire pair. Superb performance.
This foursomes session was possibly one of our greatest foursomes performance of the season which put us in a strong position but one where complacency was never on the agenda. It was vital that we kept up momentum as we know Staffordshire are a strong side.
Warwickshire 4 – 1 Staffordshire
First out was the ever-present Tom Ibbertson against Staffordshire’s number 1 player of Ryan Brooks. With Ryan having 3 birdies in the first 4 holes left Tom with a knockout punch of 4 down after 4. However, something special was about to happen. Tom won 8 of the next 14 holes, which at this level is quite remarkable but one that he can do. This showed pure determination and commitment to the cause which echo’s through the team. A superb 4&2 victory was the best of the day. Well played Tom.
Next out was Chris Laird who has plenty of fighting spirit in him, which again proved to be the case. With Chris winning the 16thhole he took a 1 up lead, however it was Tom Hewitt who pulled a hole back to share the points. A great half for Chris and an important one for Warwickshire.
Tom Cleaton was up against the strong Simon Higgins, a match that was going to test Tom and giving an indication of how he has developed into a great player at a young age. Tom was six under par for his round in a match that had more birdies than a bird sanctuary. It resulted in a halved match and one that Tom can take great pleasure in. A super display.
Dave Atkins was next out, feeling fresh from the defence of his Russian Amateur Championship title only 2 weeks ago which was a great achievement. He was up against Jake Mcgoldrick. This was another hard-fought match and with Dave one down after 15 something had to happen. It was the 16thtee shot that intervened once again, with a lost ball off the tee from Jake saw the match all-square and it finished at that. Another shared point but one that we were happy with as it retains our leading margin. Well played Dave.
With the score 6.5 – 2.5 we still needed to press on.
Joe Macilwraith, (Olton’s recent Club Champion) proved again his ability to be able to get over the winning line. Joe was 1 down playing 16 and never out of it. He won 16 and turned his game round to secure a fantastic 1up victory. An impressive point from Joe and his never say die attitude is a pleasure to watch. It was great performance all day from Joe.
With the draw secured we were now pushing for the win.
Mike Pell was unable to crawl back his match having gone down early losing 5&4 and Steve Creed who shot under par was in ore of his appointment, Rob Beasley, who was 8 under in a stretch of eight holes and said it was possibly one of the best performances he has seen. Steve who played great golf all day finally had a respectable 3&2 defeat. Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up.
It was however George Gill, who finally got us over the winning line, with a great display of ball striking and short game finesse, however it wasn’t easy as Staffordshires Scott Cronin also produced some great golf. But it was George who went on to win his game 1up securing his second point of the day. Well played George.
Rob Copperthwaite continued his winning streak to produce his well-deserved second point of the day winning 3&2 by producing some great golf and excellent putting skills which is difficult for any opponent. Another fantastic display of how to get points on the board.
Paul Walker who was called up at the last minute played some great golf tee to green. It was however his opponent who holed out very well to secure a win for Staffs with a 2&1 defeat. Paul’s commitment to County golf has been fantastic to see and he is a pleasure to be around.
It was a great performance and result from Warwickshire showing our strength in-depth and one that keeps up on track going into our next game.
Warwickshire 5.5 – 4.5 Staffordshire
Warwickshire 9.5 – 5.5 Staffordshire
I would like to thank Graham Barton, President of Warwickshire for his support and encouragement along with Pete Clarke, Matt Nixon and John Duncombe. I would also like to thank Leamington and County Golf Club for looking after us all day and producing a golf course in great condition. Finally, I would like to wish Staffordshire all the best for the rest of the season.