Three teams eye County Finals title

The excitement is ramping up at English Women’s County Finals with one round left to play – and three teams in the title hunt at Royal North Devon Golf Club

Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey all won their third match of the week today and they’re neck and neck at the top of the table.

Gloucestershire have a narrow advantage thanks to their superior total of game points. They have 16.5, while Surrey have 15 and Buckinghamshire have 14.

Such small margins could be crucial tomorrow when the order of play will see Surrey take on Staffordshire, Buckinghamshire meet Gloucestershire and Yorkshire play Norfolk.

Surrey’s Katie Laud probably summed up for all the teams when she said: “We need to win as many points as we can tomorrow – and hope. We know we are behind and there are three teams than can win so we’ll be going for 5-nil.”

Today’s action was played out in more dreary weather, but it was rain which challenged the players, rather than the winds of the last couple of days – and they much preferred it, particularly when putting. “The rain was horrible but it’s the wind which is punishing,” said Buckinghamshire captain Sue Ashworth. “You can protect against the rain.”

Her team went all out today to beat Staffordshire 4-1 – only too aware that both teams were tie at the start of the day and a win was essential to keep their title hopes alive.

Alice Kozlowski and Georgina Bowers led the way in the foursomes, taking charge in the middle of the round, and were followed by singles successes from Daisy Kennedy (1up, pictured), Thalia Kirby (6/5) and Rachel Goodwin (3/2).

“The brief was to win and they were amazing, brilliant,” said Ashworth. “The weather was foul to start with but the girls did good and everyone else was out supporting, including the girls who didn’t play. It was great team spirit.

“We knew we had to win today to have a chance tomorrow. If we had lost it would have been all over, but we have given ourselves a chance.”

Gloucestershire held on to their narrow lead in the championship with their 3-2 win over Norfolk. But it was tight – and it fell to Ffion Tynan to keep their title hopes alive by halving the last to win her game 1 up.  Earlier, Claudia Ovens and Sam Round took the foursomes point 2/1 while Alex Saunders won comfortably 5/4.

Gloucestershire’s bid to regain the title they won in 2016 had been stalled by yesterday’s defeat but there was no doubting their intentions today. “Yesterday was disappointing, but we were frustrated by the wind and the other team adapted better than we did, so all credit to them,” said captain Andra Knight. “Today their attitude has been fantastic.”

Surrey was another team in determined mood. “We had our game face on!” said team captain Sally Parrish, after their 4-1 win over Yorkshire. “It keeps us very much in contention.”

This match did have to contend with strengthening winds over the closing holes, but Surrey kept focussed and mounted up the points. Sarah Wilmore and Rafiah Banday teamed up to take the foursomes 2/1, while there was a particularly convincing 5/4 win for Canice Screene. Nicola Taylor’s 1up win pushed the team over the winning line and Laud’s 2up win at the end of the order added another precious point to the tally.

Today’s matches were again reduced to one foursomes and four singles because of the adverse weather conditions.

Image copyright Leaderboard Photography