(Midlands Qualifying for England Golf's National County Finals)
Venue – Chesterfield Golf Club - Saturday 22nd June 2019
Team Selected :
Tom Ibbertson – Coventry Hearsall GC
Rhys Lawrence – Coventry GC
Tom Cleaton – Rugby GC
Steve Creed – Maxstoke Park GC
Mike Pell – Olton GC
Lewis Phillips – Coventry GC
(Official Reserve – Ben Goodison – Coventry GC)
This annual event is contested between the 10 Midlands counties and is a gruelling 36 hole medal event with everyone's scores counting towards the best 6 man total. There is no where to hide in this format, every single shot counts !!
With other major elite amateur events at the same the time as this Midlands Qualifying event (British Amateur & Berkshire Trophy) our team may not have consisted of some notable names but we had an exciting group of six players ready for the challenge and opportunity that lay ahead. These Warwickshire men have huge talent but also a fighting spirit and team ethic that is crucial in this event.
Practice on Friday 21st June went well and with all preparation done we welcomed a dry and pleasant Saturday morning for 'The 6's'.
First out for Warwickshire was Lewis Phillips at 8am off the 10th. The back nine would prove the tougher nine all day and Lewis found himself +3 after the 18th (his 9th). He battled back fantastically well without his 'A' game to post +1 (72). Tom Cleaton back from the US was very professional in his preparation and his scoring rarely moved away from par. -1 after 9 holes and then +1 for the tricky back nine gave a solid level par 72. Mike Pell's first round story was similar to Lewis Phillips, +3 after the tough 9 battling back to +1 after 17 and then unfortunately double-bogeying the par 5 ninth to return a 74 (+3), unlucky Mike.
Tom Ibbertson was our only player with previous experience of playing in the event. As expected he played pretty much par golf all the way round and posted a very solid +1 (72).
Rhys Lawrence is a pretty laid back character full of natural golfing talent. An edgy first 7 holes saw him +4 stood on the 17th tee with major work to do. He responded brilliantly with birdies on 17th, 18th, 1st and 2nd to get back to level par. Further birdies on the 4th and 9th gave Warwickshire its first under par score of the day (-2) 69, great playing Rhys !! Last man out was County stalwart Steve Creed. Unusual misses on the Chesterfield greens coupled with a growing breeze meant +3 after nine holes followed by pretty much the same on the harder back nine. It added up to +7 (78) for Steve and hopefully a better afternoon.
So our halfway total was +10 (436) lying in the 3rd place behind Nottinghamshire (+5) and Lincolnshire leading with an excellent Level Par 426 after the morning round.
Following a brief lunch our players began the task of catching Lincolnshire. Again Lewis Phillips lead Team Warwickshire out, he started well birdieing the 1st but more bogeys than birdies followed all adding up to a 74 (+3). Cleaton continued with his great golf to be 3 under after 15 but bogeys on the 16, 17 & 18 returned Tom with another level 71. Super consistent from Tom Cleaton with a 142 level par performance. Mike Pell began his second 18 well being -1 after 6 holes and Level after nine. One dropped shot (on the 11th) gave Mike a +1 (72) for the PM round and a total of +4 for the day.
Tom Ibbertson started well with a birdie on the 10th but three bogies followed making the turn at +2. Further bogies followed and Tom could only muster a single birdie on the front nine. It all added up to a 77 (+6). Rhys Lawrence began his quest for top individual honours with birdies on 4, 6 & 11 to stand -2 after 11 holes. But three successive bogies on 12, 13 & 14 gave Rhys a +1 (72) for the PM round and a best for Warwickshire total of 141 (-1) for the day. Congratulation Rhys on an extremely impressive 6's debut, first of many!!
Steve Creed completed the Warwickshire scoring with an improved +3 score of 74. Steve gave it his all but not his day on the greens, he will be back !
So the Warwickshire afternoon total came to +14 (440) and an overall total of 876 (+24) for the day. We finished 3rd overall from 10 counties, so an excellent effort – well done Lads !
1st round leaders Lincolnshire worsened slightly in the afternoon with +12 (438) for a very good overall total of 864 (+12) but an afternoon Nottinghamshire charge of 423 (-3) with scores of 70, 70, 71, 73, 68 & 71 gave them a fantastic overall score of +2 (854).Well played Nottinghamshire !!! Good luck representing the Midlands in the Men's County Finals at Huddersfield Golf Club in September.
Warwickshire support on the day was fantastic, my thanks go to President Graham Barton & wife, Bob Harrison & wife, Graham Hayes & wife. Great appreciation to Matt Nixon, Pete Clarke, Nev Gardner, Stuart Bloxham, Tom Whitehouse (County coach) and Mark Reynolds for their work and support for both the practice day and tournament day. Our players did comment to me afterwards how good it was to see the Warwickshire support around the course throughout the day. I must not forget the tireless effort of the caddies on the day not already mentioned, Chris Leonard, Tom Cleaton's Dad and our official reserve for the tournament Ben Goodison of Coventry Golf Club who was ready to stand in if required.
My first County 6's as Captain and a learning curve for me but l look forward to going a couple better in 2020.