Three sub-par returns earn Walsall Champion Club crown
A sparkling day’s golf, in which they all returned sub-par scores, earned the Walsall trio of Lewis Pearce and the Sheridan-Mills brothers Freddie and Henry, the English Champion Club title at Stoneham Golf Club near Southampton.
With Pearce shooting a four-under-par 68 and the brothers 71 and 70 respectively for a second day tally of 209, it gave them an aggregate of 425 and a three stroke winning margin over the team from Farrington in Somerset.
It is unusual for all three players to finish in red figures but it was more than enough to take the title to Staffordshire for the first time in 21 years, following Trentham’s success in 1991, and that was before the Sheridan-Mills brothers were born.
“We felt we had a good chance of winning because Stoneham is a similar course to Walsall and it suited our games,” said Freddie Sheridan-Mills.
“We knew that if we played to form we could pick up a few birdies and we did. We have won regional events but to win a national title is great. It also tops the year off nicely.”
Pearce, Walsall’s hero of the day, added: “After yesterday, we knew that if we could all shoot under par we would be thereabouts and I think we were unlucky not to have six rounds under par. I had 75 yesterday so I suppose I let the team down.
“ It’s great to win something when you are representing your county and when you win an England Golf event you’ve reached a higher category of player.”
Walsall began the day sharing third place with Farrington, two strokes behind the joint leaders, Coventry from Warwickshire and Formby from Lancashire, winners for the previous two years.
But the boys from Staffordshire, with a combined age of 59 and a collective handicap of plus-four, were soon striding ahead, particularly as Pearce and Henry Sheridan-Mills both eagled the opening hole.
Pearce added six birdies in his 68 and Henry Sheridan-Mills just three, while older brother Freddie signed for five birdies in his 71.
The Farrington team, who finished third at Woodbridge two years ago, looked as if they would be crowned champions until the Walsall boys posted their formidable total.
The Somerset squad returned 69s from Craig Adams and Tom Small but their 212 aggregate left them on 428. Adams was particularly hard on himself after standing at seven under par with three holes to play.
But he finished double bogey-bogey-bogey which was to prove decisive. “But for that finish we would have won,” he remarked.
Rotherham finished third on 431 thanks to 70s by Sam Young and Jamie Harrison, a stroke ahead of Coventry who had a second day aggregate of 218 but defending champions Formby lost their chance of a title hat-trick when they finished with 229 for 443.
The best round of the day, a 66, came from Sam Whitehead, a member of the Woburn team from BB&O, while Norfolk-based Luke Johnson from King’s Lynn, first out at 8am, shot 67, a few days after picking up the amateur prize in the Norfolk Open.
The Walsall lads now qualify to represent England in the European Champion Club Tournament in the sunshine of Cyprus next month and they can’t wait.
Image ot Walsall Golf Club team copyright Tom Ward.