Sam Easterbrook (c) WISHAW +1.3
Oliver Clark LADBROOK PARK 0.1
Ryan Gavin COVENTRY 1.3
Lennon O’Neill-Knibbs HEARSALL 1.9
Sam Knowles WISHAW 3.6
Josh Gardner COVENTRY 4.9
Louis Taylor LADBROOK PARK 5.4
Tom Neal THE WARWICKSHIRE 9.4
In the words of the mighty Phil Mickelson, it was “exceptionally awesome” to be back out there at Rugby Golf Club with the Under 16 squad for our first match of 2021, welcoming our visitors from Leicestershire & Rutland for a friendly fixture. It certainly was friendly, with players and officials genuinely enjoying the chance to meet up and play again. That said, once they stepped onto that first tee,everyone wanted to bring back a win for their team…and quite rightly so.
After one of the coldest and wettest months of May in living memory, we were finally able to enjoy some warm sunshine…for approximately 40 seconds. Then it disappeared again, leaving us under overcast skies and with a biting wind to deal with.
With our opponents unfortunately struggling with the availability of players, this fixture was shortened to 8 scratch matchplay singles matches over 18 holes. Even with the reduced format, both counties put out very strong selections, making for some excellent golf on the day.
Personally, and for a few of the players, it was a first visit to Rugby Golf Club. We very much appreciated the club’s excellent hospitality and catering, and we were provided with a course which was very well presented; especially given recent weather conditions. The course reminded me a bit of Louis Oosthuizen. Shorter than many, a little quirky, but very likeable nonetheless.
And so, to the golf. Warwickshire were led away by their Captain, Sam Easterbrook who faced L&R’s top player Frazer Jones (+0.2). With two such high-quality players, it was no surprise that the standard of golf in this match was excellent. Sam remarked at the turn that he was level par, and 5 down! Well done to Frazer, who was outstanding on the greens in particular. Despite Sam’s best efforts on the back 9, L&R took this first match 6&5.
Next out for Team Warwickshire was Ollie Clark, facing L&R’s Charlie Box (0.7). Again, the L&R player took the upper hand early in the match and did not look like giving up his advantage. The match was won by Charlie 5&4, and the day had started to look like an uphill struggle for the home team.
Ryan Gavin was able to claw back some ground, closing out an impressive 4&2 victory over Millen Durham (1.1), bringing Warwickshire back to 1 - 2 down in the match.
Lennon O’Neill-Knibbs was involved in a much tighter match with his opponent Harry Rothera (2.7). Despite Lennon leading early on, Harry fought back to all-square going down the 17th. In conditions which were getting windier by the minute, Lennon missed an important putt on the 17th green to give Harry a lead of 1up and 1 to play. A slightly over-cut tee shot on 18 made the match look beyond Lennon, but an excellent recovery set him up to win the hole and halve the match.
Sam Knowles took on Thomas Duziba (4.4) from L&R, and this again was a close match. Sam had led early, but Thomas took the 17th hole to lead 1up with 1 to play. He was able to hold on for a 1up victory to L&R and take the match score to1½ - 3½.
Team Warwickshire’s very own pocket dynamo Josh Gardner was up next, taking on Finn Dobson (9.4). Having set an “electric” pace, Josh raced to a 4up lead in this match, but to his great credit Finn was able to come back to just 1 down and take the match all the way down the 18th. Both players played the difficult 18th well, with Josh managing to win the last hole for a 2up victory.
Ladbrook Park’s Louis Taylor produced some consistently good play to lead for most of his match against Cameron Harris (9.9), managing to close out a 4&2 victory on the 16thgreen, taking the match score to tied at 3½ - 3½.
Sadly for Team Warwickshire, things weren’t as close as that match scoreline suggests, as the final match between Tom Neal and Harry Finch (12.3) had already finished in favour of the L&R player with a comprehensive 7&6 win; meaning a 4½ to 3½ match win for L&R.
Well done to all of the players. It was a pleasure to see you all out there enjoying competitive golf again; and playing the matches in a spirit of sportsmanship. So often, opponents could be heard complimenting each other on their good play…which is a credit to all of them.
A quick word for our other squad players who just missed out on the 8 matchplay places. Harry Hartle (Ladbrook Park), Ben Storer (Moor Hall), Sam Price (the Warwickshire), and Anthony Bridgeman (The Belfry) followed the matches out onto the tee and played their own matchplay pairs between them – resulting in a match halved on the 18th green. It was great to see you out in your county’s colours.
In conclusion, although the home team was disappointed not to come out on top, golf was the winner in this first match in what we hope is the post-Covid era. Thanks again to Rugby GC for hosting us so well. Thanks to L&R for providing such a fine opposition, and thanks to all parents and officials for making these matches happen.
A final thanks to WUGC Board members Mark Reynolds (President) and Graham Barton (Immediate Past President) for your attendance and support on the day. The Board’s interest in the team is very much appreciated, but if you could make provision in the budget for some sunshine next time that would be even more appreciated!
Next fixture:vs STAFFORDSHIRE at Stratford Park GC (H) on Sunday 4th July
Warks u16 Team Manager
Warks u16 Team Manager