In what proved to be a thrilling weekend of amateur golf at the very highest level Warwickshire's two County Champions came up just short in England Golf's County Champion of Champions events held over the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa this past weekend.
These events which sees County Champions compete against each other at Boy's, Men's and Seniors level is played over 36 holes. Warwickshire had two players competing as The Belfry's Seb Cave had won both the Boys' and Men's Championships earlier in the season along with Warren Bladon from Kenilworth who won the Seniors Championship.
The Boy's Championship played on Saturday saw Seb lose out by just two shots to Dylan Shaw-Radford representing Yorkshire whose two excellent rounds of 70 and 71 saw off the challenge from 29 fellow champions from rival counties around England. Seb, whose opening round of level par 73 saw him behind at lunchtime, returned a marvellous round of 3 under par 70 in the afternoon and could have forced a play off with an eagle 3 at the last hole, but his second shot found the greenside bunker on the par 5 and with so much rain the day before, left a difficult shot from heavy sand. Unable to hole the bunker shot to force a tie, Seb safely made his par to secure second place by one shot from Andrew Haswell representing Lancashire who had a best score of the day round of 68 in the afternoon.
The Seniors Championship is also played over two rounds, one on Saturday and one on Sunday and featured 33 participants. The leaders after the first round tee off last in the second and saw Warren Bladon again playing with his first round partner and the first round leader Steve Sansome from Leicestershire along with Bob Aston from Staffordshire. Both Warren and Bob had scored rounds of level par 73 on Saturday to be 2 shots behind their playing partner. There was nothing in it over the opening 8 holes but a lost ball for Bob at the 9th hole effectively ended his challenge and with Warren making a birdie at the 10th hole the Warwickshire player was in front for the first time. Steve then birdied 3 holes in a row from the 12th to lead by two shots, however a 3 putt from the Leicester man on the 16th green closed the gap to one and after both players parred the 17th hole, the gap remained at one shot standing on the 18th tee. Steve's tee shot found a bunker and with the green out of reach in two he was forced to lay up his second shot to the green. Warren's drive had split the fairway and his towering 4 iron second shot to 15 feet gave him a hint of victory. Steve hit his third shot with an 8 iron to 6 feet and when Warren's eagle putt missed, Steve calmly rolled in his putt for the victory. His two rounds of 71, gave him a winning total of 4 under par 142, one shot ahead of Warren whose rounds of 73 and 70 gave him a 5 shot margin over Garry Lacy from Lancashire in 3rd place who had rounds of 73 and 75.
The Men's Championship played over 2 rounds on Sunday surprisingly featured just 23 players, albeit all County Champions in their own right. Seb's morning round of level par 73 saw him in 7th place, 3 shots behind 4 players who led with opening rounds of 3 under par 70. For the second day running Seb again scored lower in the afternoon, this time a best of the day round of 5 under par 68. As the afternoon wore on, Seb held the overall lead more than once however Andrew Minnikin from Northumberland, one of the morning leaders and playing immediately behind Seb, produced a sparkling back nine holes of 4 under par 33 including birdies on both the 17th and 18th holes. Seb's putt for an eagle 3 at the last would have given him a tie for the lead, prior to Minnikin's birdie, but after Seb's putt had shaved the hole which would have given him second place outright, he had to be content with second place on countback from Gloucestershire's Nick Day. Ultimately Seb came up just short with rounds of 73 and 68, compared with Nick's 71 and 70, both 2 shots behind Andrew's 70 and 69.
Three events and three seconds, what might have been for the odd putt here and there, I am sure everybody could say the same, but a truly marvellous effort by our two players and it was a thrill to have been there to watch.