Sunday 1st September
Halesowen Golf Club
Dan Launchbury – Coventry
Chris Leonard – Hearsall
Ben Smith – Coventry
Lewis Watson – Handsworth
Ethan Trouth – Moor Hall
Seb Cave – The Belfry
Rocco Luca - Coventry
Tommy Lewis - Nuneaton
Nev Gardner - Stoneleigh Deer Park
Karl Mason – Stratford Oaks
The last league match of 2019 for the Warwickshire 2nd team would see us up against Worcestershire at Halesowen. With both teams being unbeaten, it was to be a straight shoot out for the 2019 title. Worcestershire having a 1.5 winning game advantage on the match scores over the season, a tied game today would not be enough for Warwickshire to take the title.
The course at Halesowen looked in superb condition and with bright but blustery conditions the match commenced.
In the first foursome for Warwickshire was Ethan Trouth and Lewis Watson. They started strongly and only a chip in from under a conifer by Worcestershire early on kept this game level. Heading into the back nine and the Worcestershire pair began to move ahead obtaining a two up lead standing on the 17th tee. Both pairs drove through the green on this par 4 and when the Warwickshire guys failed to get it up and down the match had sadly got out of reach, a 2 & 1 defeat the final scoreline.
Match 2 saw Dan Launchbury and Ben Smith team up again and they would get off to a slow start but recover to reach the turn at just 1 down. Unfortunately, a few missed fairways on the back nine meant more lost holes and they would eventually lose this one 4 & 3.
Looking to steady the Warwickshire ship was Chris Leonard and Rocco Luca, Rocco fresh off defending his Warwickshire Boys Matchplay title. This match ebbed and flowed. Warwickshire with an early lead, then Worcestershire slightly in front. It was super close all the way round and reached the last hole with Chris and Rocco holding a 1 up lead. They would finish with great composure on the tricky last and seal a vital 1 up victory.
Next saw youth and experience combined as Seb Cave and Nev Gardner paired up. Seb our new Boys Champion for 2019 at just 14 years old and Nev who has just joined the senior ranks this season.
Again this match was very close all morning. Never more than a hole or two in it, it would be Worcestershire who would reach the last tee with a 1 up lead in this one. Nev’s tee shot drifted a fraction right and Seb was left with a seemingly impossible shot over a tree to a tight flag with out of bounds lurking perilously close to the back of the green. Seb hit a stunning approach with a Mickelson esc flop shot to just a few feet and this would seal the win on the last and a halved match.
In the last match Tommy Lewis and Karl Mason started well and were handling the conditions as well as any pair out there. They would remain in front for the entire back 9 and would close out a 2 & 1 victory with a halving birdie on 17.
With honours even after the morning foursomes it was clearly going to be a very close match. The sides looking evenly balanced and the course playing its part by proving very difficult to make birdies. It was all on the singles – we required 5.5 out of the 10 to claim the title.
First out was Dan Launchbury and struggling to find enough fairways today he would find his Worcestershire opponent too good on the day and finally succumb to a 3 & 1 defeat. Dan has been an ever present this season and put in some monumental performances, not least when winning his point at Coxmoor against Notts. Unlucky today but thank you for all your fight and commitment this season.
Ben Smith was out at number 2 and he was fighting hard and playing nicely but losing ground on a very good opponent. There was no stopping Jake Kelly from Worcestershire who birdied the very tough 14th to take a 3up lead he would eventually convert to a 3 & 1 win. Ben has also been an ever present this year, never one to shy away from playing up the order.
Not the start we were looking for in the singles but the match was still there to be won.
Number 3 was Lewis Watson and he was behind early on but got back to just 1 down with a stunning eagle 2 on the par 4 8th hole (Driving the green to just 10 feet). Momentum behind him Lewis played some sublime golf, some of the best on show on the day and would drag this match around to put him 2 up on the 17th tee. Having lost the 17th it was now full on pressure time. Lewis stood tall and played a great last hole to see out his victory by 1up. Lewis has had a great first season with the 2nd team, he’s picked up a lot of points and showed he is one determined match player.
Next in the order was Ethan Trouth, Ethan was 4 down after 4 and staged a remarkable recovery to win on the last. In this match Ethan again started slowly and would be 4 down after 6 (Note to next year’s Captain – No Lunch for Ethan, send him straight back out!). Not phased once again by being so far behind early Ethan would again work his tail off to get back into the match and amazingly would be 1up standing on the last tee. Ethan would make a steady par and his Worcestershire opponent was left with a 20 foot birdie chance for the tie. A hard breaking putt from left to right on the tricky last green, the putt found the middle of the hole and heartbreakingly a halved result. Great putt from Bobby Campbell but this was still a remarkable fightback. Ethan has a great all round golf game, he will be a valuable team member next season without a doubt.
Seb Cave was playing at number 5 and he took to the course and the conditions like a seasoned pro. Almost impossible to believe he’s only 14. This match was of a high standard and close all the way round. Standing on the last tee all square Seb hit another fantastic approach shot to only 10 feet. He hit a great putt but agonisingly it just died short in the jaws leaving his Worcestershire opponent a tricky 5 footer for the half. More credit where it’s due here and Steve Bird from Worcestershire holed it for a halved match. This was Seb’s debut for the 2nds, not that anyone could have possibly known given the standard of his golf on the day. He reminds me a lot of a young Steve Webster I had the pleasure of competing against many years ago. We can all watch Seb’s career unfold with interest, but for today a great performance showing immense courage under pressure.
Tommy Lewis at number 6 was struggling with his game in the afternoon and the Worcestershire captain was unforgiving with his ruthlessly efficient par golf. Tommy would lose this one 7 & 6 but again his contribution through the season has been huge and he’s a great addition to this team.
The match was on the brink, we needed 3.5 out of the last 4 matches remaining.
Rocco Luca was next in the order and he was 2 down after 8 but would fight his way right back into his match to be all square on 17. Rocco then holed an absolutely clutch 10 footer for a half on 17 to stay all square and played the 18th immaculately, booming his drive just short of the green and a beautiful pitch loaded with spin to just a few feet to seal a great 1up victory and keep our hopes alive. I’ve not seen much of Rocco’s golf before, but I can see how he has won the last two Boys Matchplay titles. Masses of courage and ability, he will be a valuable player next year for sure.
Chris Leonard was next in the order and he was fighting his hardest but his Worcestershire opponent was doing very little wrong, in fact doing an awful lot very right indeed. 3 birdies going out and two on the way back, this was astounding scoring in the conditions. Chris unfortunately had no answer to this and would lose 6 & 4.
This sadly meant we could only tie this match and therefore the title had gone the way of Worcestershire for 2019. However with two games remaining we could still tie todays match and finish the league season unbeaten.
Karl Mason was playing in the penultimate match and he was playing very solid golf to get an early lead in this one. He would keep pressing on, making very few mistakes and win this one by a 4 & 3 margin. Karl really is a captain’s dream, always making himself available (even at short notice) and if I’m being honest he doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for just how good a player he is. His record is impeccable – thanks for all your contributions throughout my captaincy.
In the final game, as is the tradition, was Nev Gardner. Nev was one up through 7 and with more solid golf find himself 4up through 13. He would, as he has done for so many years now for Warwickshire close out his win 5 & 4. If you cut Nev in half he would have Warwickshire written through him I’m sure. Few people have contributed quite as much or as often to Warwickshire as Nev has. Thanks for both your hard work and valuable counsel over the past 2 years.
The singles matches had been drawn 5 – 5, the foursomes drawn 2.5 – 2.5 and both teams remained unbeaten in the 2019 league season. Just as throughout the year, there was very little to separate the two sides. However, Worcestershire having the larger winning margins in their matches are very worthy winners of the 2019 league.
A huge congratulations to Duncan and his Worcestershire team on this win. Our matches are always fun and this one was no exception. The welcome we received at Halesowen was first class and all supporters and players from both sides made the day feel really special.
Whilst I must confess to being a smidge disappointed we couldn’t quite grasp the title for 2019 it must be quite rare that a team goes unbeaten through a league season but fails to win the league. Golf can sometimes be a cruel friend but as the saying goes “no one has ever learned anything from a match they have won”. This team is young and talented and will come back even stronger next year. Despite the lack of a trophy or medal this season I do hope all the players still recognise their achievements for this team in 2019.
A massive thank you to Mark Reynolds and Bob Harrison who supported the team for the two seasons I was captain. Thanks also to Bob Wallace for all his help in ensuring we kept the information about the junior team flowing and I’m proud of the fact that so many of our younger players have made their debuts and been very successful for the 2nds over the past two seasons.
Lastly the players who so kindly gave up their Sundays to represent the team and who time and time again over the season fought, battled and grafted for the Warwickshire cause. Thank you so much for the support and effort you invested over the last two seasons.
I’m pleased to announce that Chris Staite (Robin Hood) will be taking over the Captaincy from next season. I’m confident he can steer our team onto many more victories and I know Chris will relish the challenge.
It’s been an honour and a pleasure to captain the side. Lots of great memories and new friends associated to the game I love dearly. I’m extremely grateful to have been offered the opportunity. Hopefully I can take a lot of what I’ve learned over the past two seasons onto the golf course for myself. I’m only 13 years away from the senior ranks after all.
See you all out on the golf course soon.