1st Team selected:
Tom Ibbertson – Hearsall
Mike Pell – Olton
Steve Keay – Harborne
Chris Laird – The Warwickshire
Ben Goodison – Coventry
Rhys Wallace – Handsworth
Lee Podmore - Harborne
Dan Bardsley – Moor Hall
Rob Bardsley – Moor Hall
Karl Smith – Handsworth
The fifth and final League match of 2019 would decide the winners. Warwickshire at home against Worcestershire at Harborne and Derbyshire away to Shropshire & Herefordshire at Burghill Valley. Warwickshire and Derbyshire were both tied at the top with 6 League points each, but Derbyshire held a slight 'points' advantage meaning we had to win by a few more points in this last match than Derbyshire to retain our title.
Everyone arrived at a sunny Harborne GC looking forward to the pristine course condition and slick greens we have been accustomed to at this premier Midlands golf club. Beginning the morning foursomes was home club players Steve Keay and Lee Podmore, with solid golf and course knowledge they created a 4up lead after 5 holes. They remained 3up at the turn and still the same score after the 15th. A couple of late Worcestershire wins would take the match up 18 but Steve and Lee kept calm to win the first point of the day.
Warwickshire's second pairing was 1st team regulars Mike Pell and Tom Ibbertson. A tight match being all square after 5 and then 1up to Worcestershire through 10 holes. However a run of wins for Tom and Mike from 11 onwards gave them a 3up advantage after 15 holes. The match concluded on the 16th green with a 3&2 win for Warwickshire. The 3rd Warwickshire pairing would see the Bardsley brothers team up from Moor Hall. Dan has played for the Warwickshire 2nd team earlier in the season and brother Rob has recently returned from the Professional ranks. Although one down after 5, the match turned all square. A loss on the 10th gave a Worcestershire advantage they would keep until the 16th tee. Rob and Dan dug deep, won 16 and then birdied the tough uphill 17th to take a 1up advantage to the brutal 234 yard Par 3 18th. A quality 3 by the brothers meant an excellent debut point for this pairing we may see regularly in the future. Well done Rob & Dan.
Forth pairing was Handsworth's Karl Smith & Rhys Wallace. Birdies on the 1st and 4th and 8th meant a commanding 3up after 8 holes. Further wins on 10 & 11 would make it 5up but Worcestershire battled back winning 12 and 14. The fifteenth was halved in birdies and a solid par on 16 would close the match by 3&2. The final Warwickshire foursome was the regular pairing of Ben Goodison and Chris Laird, they started well being 3up after 5 and 4up after 8. They would maintain that advantage through the back nine and win comfortably by 3&2.
So with a big match win required Warwickshire had completed the perfect morning score with a 5 – 0 match score.
The singles began with Steve Keay, never much in this opening match Worcestershire held a 1up advantage after 9 and then 2up after 14. Although Steve used his local course knowledge to fight back his Worcestershire opponent stood firm and closed the match 3&1. Mike Pell followed in match 2 taking a 1up lead after the 7th. Dynamite putting from his opponent on the back nine turned the match around and Mike could not stop a 3&2 loss. Third match out was Tom Ibbertson playing the strong Worcestershire player Kieran Austin. One down after the 7th and further losses on 8 and 11 meant a big hill for Tom to climb. Worcestershire kept control and won on the 15th green. The Worcestershire fightback was on after winning the first three singles. Match Score 5-3 to Warwickshire.
Harborne member Lee Podmore featured in Match 4 racing to a 3up lead after 7 holes. That lead continued well into the back nine and Lee comfortably won by an impressive 5&3 margin. Well played Lee, great 1st team debut. Rob Bardsley continued his return to County golf in a confident manner being 2up after the 5th and holding that advantage through 12 holes. The match finished on the 16th giving Rob full points on he day. Good to see Rob back representing Warwickshire once again.
The 6th game featured yours truly after stepping in this morning following an unfortunate last minute drop out. A birdie on the 5th and further wins on the 6th, 7th and 8th meant 4up for Worcestershire. I rallied somewhat to win the 9th and 12th holes to get back to 2 down but then watched Kris Allen from Moseley (Ex Harborne) hole his 187 yard 7 iron on the 14th to go back to 3up (Great shot Kris !!). The match finished on the 16th green. Match score at this point was 7-4 to Warwickshire.
Dan Bardsley took control of Match 7 being 2up after 7 holes. He would maintain that advantage with solid golf and win on the 17th green by a 3&1 margin to give Warwickshire the match point to win the game. We needed more points from the last three matches to give us the best chance of getting close to the Derbyshire total if they managed to win at Burghill. Match 8 was Rhys Wallace starting strongly being 4up after 5 holes, he maintained the good morning form and ran out a comfortable 5&3 winner.
Ben Goodison and Chris Laird in matches 9 and 10 both lead their matches through the front nine and kept their foot on the gas to record 5&3 and 5&4 victories respectively. Solid wins from these regular 1st team players, well done!!
So the final match score was Warwickshire 11 Worcestershire 4.
An excellent win meant 4 wins from 5 matches during the league season and only a Derbyshire win away at Burghill Valley GC could stop the Warwickshire celebrations. The news came through that Derbyshire had in fact won their away match against Shropshire & Herefordshire by the score of 10.5 to 4.5 and won the League by the small margin of 3 individual match points. Congratulations Derbyshire on a great win, their first in over 20 years !!
My thanks to Harborne Golf Club for hosting this fixture and providing a course in fabulous condition. Also Pete Clarke for assistance before and on the match day as l was playing rather than viewing on this particular occasion. Also our President Mr Graham Barton who has been a fantastic supporter of the 1st team this year and previously for Stuart Bloxham. I have thoroughly enjoyed having Graham around to experience the highs, lows and nail biting finishes we have experienced this year. Enjoy the 2nd team in 2020.
My thanks to all the players who have represented the Warwickshire 1st team this year, your team spirit and will to win is second to none and hopefully we can go one better in 2020 and win the League title once again.