Yorkshire and Warwickshire battled their way to wins on the first day of the English Senior Men’s County Championship at Goswick Golf Club, Northumberland.
They came out on top in two exciting matches, with Yorkshire withstanding a spirited charge by Sussex to win 5-4, while Warwickshire staged a terrific fight-back to defeat Gloucestershire 5.5-3.5.
Both foursomes resulted in a 2.5-0.5 scoreline – in favour of Yorkshire and Gloucestershire. But any thoughts that this margin might provide an easy route to a win vanished as the singles got underway.
Warwickshire may have been on the back foot after the foursomes, but they created the upset of the day by winning five of the six singles.
Andrew Carman (pictured top) set the ball rolling when he took charge of his game on the fifth, steadily increasing his lead to win 4/3. Then Tony Allen and Martin Fell followed with wins of 2/1 which moved Warwickshire into the lead for the first time.
The tension heightened as Rob Soen and Graham Taylor approached the final holes. Soen was all square after 16 but made the crucial breakthrough in his game when he won the 17th to set up a 1hole win. Taylor, meanwhile, was all square after 14, but won 15 and 16 with a birdie, par sequence to set up his 2/1 win.
Gloucestershire’s Hugh Purvis took his team’s only point of the singles in the final game, but the victory was Warwickshire’s.
This is Warwickshire’s first appearance at Senior County Finals and team captain Mark Reynolds commented: “I am absolutely thrilled. We needed 4.5 points this afternoon and we managed to get five. Everyone played for each other and pulled for each other.”
In the other match, Sussex set out with similar aims and, led by former international Martin Galway, were hot off the blocks. As the first players went through the 12th the team were up in five of the six games and Colin Jones typified the mood as he set off in blistering style with four birdies in the first four holes.
Galway and Jones both completed big wins, but Yorkshire were determined to halt the Sussex charge.
Andy King (pictured left) was on top form and didn’t lose a hole as he defeated his Sussex opponent 6/5. Then Johnny Lawrence signed off with a birdie two on the 15th for his 4/3 win, which ensured Yorkshire would at least halve the match.
Andy Whitworth provided the essential half point for victory in a game which included six birdies between the two players. Whitworth trailed early on and was three down after seven holes, but he turned his fortunes around when he won four holes in a row on the back nine.
Yorkshire captain Tony Greenhalgh said afterwards: “It was a super win, so exciting. It was inevitable that Sussex would give it a good go, but we have a fantastic team spirit with no egos.”
The golfers were not the only attraction on Goswick’s excellent links. A long-tailed Arctic skua has taken up temporary residence on the course (pictured below) and the rare sight has drawn twitchers from far and wide.