Worcestershire give Northern champs a foursomes fright
Lancashire got out of jail in this morning’s foursomes and went into lunch 2-1 ahead of Worcestershire on day two of the English Men’s County Finals at a sunny, cold and blustery Beau Desert in Staffordshire.
In the other match, Wiltshire and Suffolk were level at halfway, with one-and-a-half points each.
At one stage in the morning, Worcestershire led in all three games and looked to be heading towards a healthy lead to take into the afternoon singles.
They drew first blood when Steven Lane and Rudy Hercik generally held sway over Paul Howard and Sean Towndrow, drafted into the Lancashire line-up as replacement for the injured Steve McGlynn. (image lane and hercik © Tom Ward)
Although the game was all square through ten holes, Lane and Hercik won the 11th with a par four and the 12th with a concession to go 2-up, a lead they held to the finish.
In the top foursome, John Carroll and Jon Hurst won the first hole for Lancashire against Josh Carpenter and Henry James but lost the second. The Worcester pair then led on two more occasions but came down the last all square.
Then Worcester missed the green right, chipped into the back of a bunker on the opposite side of the green while Lancashire putted short of the hole in three.
From the sand, James did well to leave the ball short of the hole but Carpenter failed with the putt for par and Lancashire’s birdie putt was conceded for a 1 hole victory.
In the third game, Lancashire’s Mark Young and Paul Kinnear lost the first two holes against Richard Sadler and Chris Heeley but won the next two to get back to all square.
Both duos led at different stages but Lancashire crucially got their noses in front with a par on the long 15th and also won the short 16th, again with a par to go 2-up.
Although they lost the 17th to a par, Lancashire came down the last needing a half for victory. They were helped when the Worcester approach finished under trees at the back of the 18th green while Young left his third adjacent to the flag.
It was virtually a lost cause for Worcester as Sadler recovered from the tree but left Heeley with a monster putt which he fired down the slope well past the hole and duly conceded.
The other match finished level at lunch, both Wiltshire and Suffolk winning one game and halving the third.
Ali James and Josh Loughrey raced to a 4-up lead through eight holes against Patrick Spraggs and Josh Cottrell, covering that stretch in one under par.
But the Suffolk pair battled back to win four of the next five holes, two with birdies, to level the contest after 13. It was a comeback that deserved a reward which they got with a halved match.
Wiltshire got themselves ahead when Garry Slade and Jordan Smith were generally in command against Jack Cardy and Nathan Overton in the bottom game although they were pegged back to all square with five to play.
But the Wiltshire boys won the next two holes with pars while a birdie at the last saw them secure a 3 and 1 victory.
The middle foursome saw the Suffolk pair of Chris Soames and Ben Wallis ahead after three holes against Ben Loughrey and Robbie Busher and they built on that to be 3-up after 11. The Suffolk lads were still 3-up with three to play, but they three-putted 16 and 17 to come down the last with a slender lead.
They missed the green in two at the par five but chipped and putted for a par which left Loughrey with a tricky 12-footer for victory and a halved game. But his putt slipped by, leaving the Suffolk duo winners by one hole.