The first league match of the 2019 season was at Harborne Golf Club. The original venue for this fixture became unavailable so A MASSIVE thank you to the members and management of Harborne Golf Club for agreeing to host us at such short notice. Harborne is one of Warwickshire’s finest venues and they are so supportive of County golf. Yet again, the course was immaculate and with the sun shining, we were ready to kick off our 2019 campaign.
Stephen Keay (Harborne) and Ben Goodison (Coventry) led the way for Warwickshire, but some good golf from their Shropshire opponents saw them 2 down at the turn. Battling hard they dug in and some ultra-consistent golf on the back nine saw them turn the match round to be dormie 2up on the 17thtee. Stephen hammered his drive down the middle to leave Ben only a short iron which he duly fired into about 10 feet. The solid regulation par being enough for them to close this one out with a 2 & 1 victory.
In match 2 were Dan Bardsley (Moor Hall) and Cameron Bridger (Marston Lakes). This match was extraordinary and one of the best foursomes displays I’ve seen in my many years of County golf. Dan and Cameron started with 4 straight birdies and were conceded a birdie on the 5th when in close, their opponents having visited the trees and then a greenside bunker. The Warwickshire pair then birdied the 7th, 8thand 10thto be a staggering 7 under par through 10 holes and 7up. They would finish convincing winners 7 & 6 and had a long lunchtime rest.
3rdout was the Coventry pair of Dan Launchbury and Ben Smith and this match started in odd fashion with both teams losing their ball off the first tee. A somewhat scrappy match ensued but the Warwickshire pair battled hard to take it down the 18th at 1 down. The Shropshire pair were not to be denied and a solid Par 3 on the tough last hole was enough for a 2 up win for them.
Next for Warwickshire was the all Handsworth pairing of Rhys Wallace and Lewis Watson. This was a tight game with some quality golf and very long hitting on display. All square at the turn the Warwickshire guys asserted themselves and took control with 3 quick hole wins to close out a 3 & 2 win.
In the final foursome match, Tom Lewis (Nuneaton) and Jacob Parsons (The Warwickshire) fresh off winning their previous match together went in search of another win. The Shropshire pair however were proving a tough nut to crack, chipping in twice on the first 9 they held a 1up lead on Warwickshire heading into the back 9. Nip and tuck all the way round they reached the last all square and on the tough par 3 last both teams just missed the green. Tom played a great pitch to just 3 feet away but it was above the hole and left a super quick slider on the way back. Shropshire chipped up, below the hole but left a 10 foot putt. When the Shropshire putt just missed on the low side it was down to Jacob to hole. Watching on, it was the sort of putt that had he missed, it would have gone easily 6 foot past such was the speed of the down hiller. I should not have worried as like a seasoned pro Jacob just stepped up and punched it into the back of the hole. A brave putt and a brave win, giving Warwickshire a 4 – 1 lunchtime lead.
Onto the singles and Stephen Keay led the team out and soon stamped his authority on affairs, going 3 up after 9. Pegged back he had to battle right to the end to close out his match with a 1 up victory and 2 wins on the day. A great performance. A now fully fit Stephen following a recent operation is great news for Team Warwickshire.
Cameron Bridger was 2ndout and picking up where he left off from the morning he raced into an early lead with immaculate golf. In a dominant display, Cam would run out with a 5 & 4 victory for another unbeaten outing. Cam has quickly become an outstanding prospect and although we will lose him later this season when he heads off to Arizona College, we will hopefully have him out again for Warwickshire before then, well played.
Dan Bardsley was next and this was a high quality match, birdies back and forwards they would be all square after 9. Dan, although playing well to that point suddenly found another gear and in what seemed no time at all had got himself a 4 hole lead. He would close out for a 4 & 3 victory. Another maximum point return and 4 points from 4 since his return to the County set up (I’m so glad I kept annoying you now!).
Ben Goodison at 4 was playing par golf and this was enough to earn him a 5 up lead through 9. He would complete his win 5 & 4 and secure the overall match win for Warwickshire.
Rhys Wallace was next and his match was nip and tuck, never too many holes in it he stood on the last tee 1up. A courageous long iron to the last would seal the deal and a well deserved 1up win resulted. Maximum point for Rhys who’s transition to the mens team has been as smooth as Harborne’s greens. A great prospect – well played.
Lewis Watson was out at 6 and he was a couple down early. He would battle hard but his Shropshire opponent was in a determined mood and would end up with a deserved 3 & 2 victory and Shropshire’s first point of the afternoon.
Dan Launchbury at 7 having been unhappy with his game in the morning was going the right way to make amends and blazed into a 5 up lead after 9. No chance of wavering he would be under par when winning his match 7 & 6. A fantastic bounce back.
Ben Smith was in a battle royale with his opponent and they would both be 2 under par gross for the round in a halved match. Both agreeing this was a fair result given how they played.
Tom Lewis was another in a very tough encounter and this was another match to reach the final tee all square. Tom missing the last green just on the right played a fantastic pitch under pressure to just a few feet. His opponent first to putt for par had the most unfortunate 360-degree lip out which looked destined for the cup. Clinically and nerve free Tom slotted his par putt for a 1 hole win. Tom has taken to County golf brilliantly and he is sure to play a big part this season.
Playing in the anchor role was Jacob Parsons and he was quietly going about his business and steadily building his lead with some sensible plotting around the course. His error free round would see him win 5 & 4 and this was a masterclass in good shot selection. As a team we do like to have a bit of fun at Jacobs expense now and again but his golf (and winning record) is becoming very impressive. Good luck with the exams and we look forward to having you back once they are finished.
The singles completed, Warwickshire had won the singles session 8.5 to 1.5 and the match by 12.5 to 2.5.
Thank you to the Shropshire and Herefordshire team for a match played in great spirits and we wish you the very best for the remainder of the season.
Once again, I cannot thank Harborne Golf club and its members enough for their fantastic hospitality and for allowing us to use their course for this fixture. We are all very grateful.
Thank you to Nev Gardner, Mark Reynolds and Matt Nixon for the help and support on the day.
I’m thrilled with today’s result, not only for the wide margin of victory but the fact that the team now has a great mixture of youth and experience and its beginning to pay dividends.
Our next match is at Edgbaston against Staffordshire and so another performance as good as this one will be required.