Gloucestershire won the English Women’s County Championship today in a battle of endurance on the storm-swept links of Royal North Devon Golf Club.
Storm Bronagh succeeded Storm Ali and Storm Helene to deliver more brutal conditions for the six teams, with today’s winds easily the worst of the week.
Because of the adverse conditions today’s three matches were each reduced to four singles and two foursomes. At the start of play, Gloucestershire, Surrey and Buckinghamshire were all in the title hunt, with the South West team holding a slight advantage thanks to their superior total of game points.
But it was Gloucestershire who literally swept to victory, beating Buckinghamshire 5-1, while Surrey’s challenge was derailed by Staffordshire who won that match 4.5-1.5. In the final match of the day Norfolk scored their first win of the week, beating Yorkshire 4-2.
This is Gloucestershire’s second win at County Finals, following their 2016 success, and captain Andra Knight commented: “They are an incredible team and what they achieved today was just amazing. We were hoping for a win, but to come in 5-1 was the icing on the cake.
“The wind was incredibly challenging out there but our players are so resilient and they just want it for each other.”
Today, players were muffled up with only eyes showing between snoods and hats, flags bent, the winds howled and buffeted and club selection was an art form. As an example, the par three fifth measured 102 yards to the front, 115 to the flag – and was playing at 185 yards.
To add insult to injury, Gloucestershire’s Alex Saunders had her ball stolen by a crow on the 10th but she was able to drop a replacement, win the hole and go on to win her match 5/4.
Some of the golf was of remarkable quality by any standards and quite outstanding in the conditions. Gloucestershire’s Caley McGinty almost holed in one on the short 14th, where her ball circumnavigated the hole, and she repeatedly demonstrated her lovely short game, chipping dead on the 15th to close out her match.
Moments earlier, team-mate Ebonie Lewis had also claimed her point on the 15th, after leading throughout her game. And within minutes Ffion Tynan pulled off a remarkable come-back to win on the 17th and seal Gloucestershire’s victory.
The 15-year-old had been three down after 10, but after some chocolate and encouragement from her coach and her caddie, she turned her game around to maintain her 100% winning record of six wins from six games.
The foursomes were played at the end of the order and Grace Connelly and Charlie Hiatt lost no time in adding another point to Gloucestershire’s total with their 8/7 win
Meanwhile, a very determined Staffordshire team put paid to Surrey’s title ambitions. Emily Brennan (3/2) and Morgan Thomas (5/4) led the way for the Midland North team before Georgie Taylor (1up) and Georgina Wilkie (half) secured the win, followed by team captain Jenny Rhodes and Rachel Bishop who sped to a 7/6 win.
Norfolk saved their best till last, scoring their first win of the week over Yorkshire and claiming 5th place in the final table. There were halved results for Chloe Gibbs and Imogen Leeder and wins from Tiffany Mills (2/1) and the foursomes pairings of Jo Herd and Jasmine Campbell (5/4) and Chloe Rowswell and Abigail O’Riordan (4/3).
Final placings: 1 Gloucestershire 2 Staffordshire 3 Surrey 4 Buckinghamshire 5 Norfolk 6 Yorkshire.
Click here for full results
• Royal North Devon Golf club hosted the championship as part of its celebrations to mark 150 years of women’s golf and each player was presented with a commemorative mug.
Caption: The winning Gloucestershire team, from left. Back row: Jessica Brown, Ebonie Lewis, Sam Round, Rachael Archibald, Charlie Hiatt, Caley McGinty.
Front row: Ffion Tynan, Alex Saunders, Andra Knight (captain), Claudia Ovens and Grace Connelly.
Image copyright Leaderboard Photography