Thursday 17th October 2019
Andrew Griffin reports from Weybrook Park..............
Hampshire failed to cash in on home advantage as Essex became the first county to win the South East Colts League Final outright three years in a row at Weybrook Park Golf Club on Sunday (13th October).
The weather conspired against county colts manager Nat Riddett from Shanklin & Sandown, disrupting his practice plans 24 hours before the showdown.
Essex maximised their advantage when the singles were switched to the morning because of more rain being forecast.
The North Division champions came out of the blocks and cashed in on their greater familiarity with the back nine to take a commanding 6-2 lead at lunch.
That meant Hampshire had to win all four foursomes matches just to force a tie – the two teams drew when Hampshire had home advantage four years ago at Rowlands Castle.
But when Osborne’s Chris Hayward, playing with Jersey’s Jason Stokes, five down after nine holes, the game was up, with Essex eventually claiming a 9-3 victory.
The score-line was particularly harsh on Riddett’s side given the season had been a major learning curve for the new manager, who also blooded a handful of new players in the U25 competition.
Six of the 12 matches were decided on the last two holes, but only one of them went the hosts’ way.
Essex, who have faced Hampshire in the final five times in the last six years, arrived a day earlier at the Basingstoke club.
They managed a full days’ practice but when the hosts arrived on Saturday morning, they were only able to get in nine holes on the front nine, before retreating to the clubhouse.
While they desperately tried to get their kit dried out, Hampshire were left to walk the back nine to formulate their game plan.
And with the forecast for Sunday predicting even more rain, the organisers were left with no choice but to swop the format around.
Riddett had no arguments with the switch, but felt it stacked the cards even more in the defending champions’ favour.
Nat said: “It was always going to be better to decide the final by playing the six singles first, in case the weather made play impossible in the afternoon.
“But losing 6-2 left us with an almost impossible task in the foursomes – and ironically, we were really good in the foursomes in the two league matches.
“We have struggled more in the singles and playing foursomes first helps you get into the feel of the match.
“Even if you lose the foursomes 4-0, you are not out of the match. But if you lose the singles heavily playing them first, you are effectively finished.
“It rained so much on Saturday, we could only play the front nine. We walked the back nine, and it is pretty much all in front of you.
“There are no hidden surprises. But Essex clearly had a better feel for it from the way they played in the singles.
“Our guys have not played here in any county events before, so it was not a course we knew very well. But fair play to Essex they had the extra day here and it paid off.
“The singles matches were fairly even at the turn, but they got the better of us on that back nine, and that unfortunately decided the match.
“It rained so hard in the morning, conditions were really tough – the greenkeepers did well to keep the course playable,” added Riddett, who is a greenkeeper at Shanklin & Sandown.
“The conditions were obviously better than forecast, but the organisers were right to make the call they did.”
Having picked six of the team that lost narrowly to Kent at the end of July, Riddett sent out two of his three big guns out at the top of the order in the singles.
But Blackmoor’s Sam Parsons – who played twice for the first-team at the start of the season and was making his last appearance as a colt having turned 25 this year – lost 3&2 to Zach Chegwidden playing first.
Debutant Lewis Scott, from Lee-on-the-Solent, lost 5&4 to North of Ireland Amateur Champion Arron Edwards-Hill in the third match to make it 2-0 to Essex.
The University of North Western Ohio graduate, who finished fourth in the NAIA National Finals, in May, had been four down after seven, and could not find the form that saw him end his US college golf scholarship on a high.
Stoneham’s Owen Grimes – last year’s Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Champion – won 4&2 against Essex captain Jordan Slater.
Fellow first-team Stokes, from La Moye, romped to a 5&4 win over Cass Steffans to tie up the match.
But Osborne’s Chris Hayward lost on the last to Jack Brown, having been two up after four, and led for 14 holes, to restore the visitors’ lead.
And when Liphook’s Sam Lemon lost the 14th to go five down to Shay McQueen, the tide was turning Essex’s way.
Bishopswood’s Tom Vaughan, appearing in his third Colts final, lost on the last to big-hitting Kish Velani and Hayling’s Josh Smead was beaten 3&2 by Ben Humphrey to make it impossible for Essex to lose.
While Riddett tried to rally his troops over lunch, the rain relented with the sun even making an appearance in the latter stages of the foursomes.
Parsons and Scott at least made a fight of the top match – having been three up against Velani and Slater, they lost the 15th and 16th before hanging on to win by one.
But Hayward and Stokes finally succumbed on the short par three 15th having cut the five-hole deficit to three after the turn.
That point ensured there could not be a draw between the two teams for the second time in five years, and Stokes ended up on the losing side for the first time in three Colts final appearances.
Smead and Lemon were behind from the first and lost 5&4 to Humphreys and Essex first-teamer Edwards-Hill, the plus-four handicapper who was only called in as an 11th replacement for Essex’s regular colts captain.
Grimes and Vaughan were never in front after losing their one-hole advantage on the second, but having been one behind for the last six holes, they had to shake McQueen and Brown’s hand on the last when the 18th was halved in par.
So after the 51st final – and eight years after Hertfordshire’s European Tour winner Matt Wallace played in the team that beat Hampshire in the 2011 final – Essex extended their dominance in Colts golf.
It was their 10th final victory since 2004 and fifth successful title defence since 1996. It leaves them with 14 victories, including three ties, since 1969, five more than Kent and Sussex, with Hampshire, IoW & CI having won it eight times.
Monday 14th October 2019
Start times for Autumn Meeting at Corhampton
18 hole stableford, nett and scratch prizes, bowl of chilli afterwards.
David Wheeler (County Secretary)
Sunday 22nd September 2019
The four Group winning Teams contested Finals Day at Petersfield Golf Club.
2019 County Sevens Champions: Army Golf Club
Henry Lloyd in sudden-death action
Lee-on-the-Solent Golf Club
Royal Guernsey Golf Club
Shanklin & Sandown Golf Club
Andrew Griffin reports.........
ARMY Golf Club equalled the record number of County Sevens wins by beating Lee-on-the-Solent at a rain-hit Petersfield Golf Club.
The Aldershot club were the first-ever winners back in 1966 – the year England won the World Cup and became the first club to hold the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Inter-Club Knockout – and it’s ladies equivalent – at the same time two years ago.
And it was Henry Lloyd, who held his nerve to get the better of Lee veteran Dave Edmunds to win at the 20th hole after the fourth match ended all-square and went into sudden-death.
The oldest player in the Lee team had been four up after five but Lloyd, who was getting four shots won the sixth, ninth, 12th and 13th.
Having lost the 16th Lloyd then made a great up and down from a greenside trap to square the match for a second time before the last was halved in fives as the nerves built up.
Edmunds, who has been a member of the Hampshire Seniors team this year, produced a miracle recovery shot from an impossible lie in the greenside bunker on the first extra hole, after Lloyd had to play the par five as a three-shotter because he had left his driver out of the bag.
His third saw him blade his approach through the back of the green, but they both got up and down for their pars.
Their 20th hole saw Edmunds find tree trouble on the right off the tee, forcing him to chip out. He was still short of the green in four while Lloyd played his fourth shot 20 feet from the pin.
Lloyd then two putted for a bogey 6 leaving Edmunds to hole from 18 feet to keep the match going. He failed narrowly to hole the putt meaning that the title was heading back up the A325 for the second time in three years.
Captain James West led the Army team again with five of the team, who lifted the trophy at Bramshaw in 2017, when they beat Ryde, in his line-up.
Having ended Shanklin & Sandown’s hopes of gaining revenge for losing against Lee-on-the-Solent when they won in the final in 2006, the Gosport-based club stood between Rowlands Castle’s record of six wins to Army’s five.
Four-handicapper Talor Reay lost 3&2 to Lee’s Hampshire U16s squad member Will Green, off three, having never been in front after losing the first two holes as Lee put the first point on the board.
Tom Ballard, another winner in 2017, beat Lee captain Kev Smith 2&1 in a battle of the five-handicappers, having been three-up with six to play.
Four-handicapper Chris Taylor fought back from one down in the top match with three to play, to draw level at the 16th.
He then won the last with a four to go one-up against Lee’s Kev Burnop, playing off three.
That made it 2-1 to the Army but Lee’s University of Northwestern Ohio graduate Lewis Scott, the only player off plus in the finals, saw off four-handicapper Alex Carey comfortably by 4&3 – despite giving away six shots – to make it 2-2.
Captain West then won the fifth match 3&2 against one-handicapper Rory Ainsworth, to edge Army back in front, before Lee’s three-handicapper Nick Mitchell, who had been dormie three, beat four-handicapper Paul Kelly 2&1 in the penultimate match.
All the players converged on Edmunds and Lloyd as they headed down the last and back out to the first before the final was eventually settled at the 20th.
A delighted West said: “To win the Sevens again is a fantastic achievement, especially twice in three years and to match Rowlands record after they won it last year.
“Having beaten them 5-2 to reach the semi-finals it was the cherry on the cake to bring the trophy back to Army Golf Club.
“With five of the players that won the Sevens in the team again, I think our experience of the finals was a big help.”
Royal Guernsey, who lost 5-2 to Army GC in their morning semi, went on to beat Shanklin & Sandown 41/2-21/2 in the third and fourth place play-off.
The “Road to Petersfield” began with a narrow win away at Alresford, when Carey grabbed the vital point in the anchor match.
That was followed by home wins over Meon Valley, 2016 winners Oak Park, and Boundary Lakes before their quarter-final clash with holders Rowlands Castle.
Lee-on-the-Solent also enjoyed a run of four straight home wins to get to the last eight, beating North Hants and Dummer – both 5-2 – followed by a 61/2-1/2 trouncing of Liphook to set up a clash with Hartley Witney.
The North Hampshire team had ended captain Kev Smith’s hopes of a finals day trip 12 months earlier, losing at Hartley Witney.
But home advantage on Lee’s tight par 69 course, which measures 5,962 yards, gave Smith, in his third year as Sevens captain, after 32 years as a member, the chance to take his team to the finals day.