Gloucestershire strike the first blow in title showdown

Bethan Popel and Alex Saunders

Gloucestershire struck the first blow in today’s tense showdown at the English Women’s County Finals, beating Yorkshire 2-1 in the foursomes.

The South West champions lost the top game 3/2 to Yorkshire champion Megan Garland and Curtis Cup player Rochelle Morris. But they held their nerve to win the other two games, which both finished on the 18th green.

Both games unfolded in similar fashion. First, Alex Giles and Claudia Ovens halved the 16th in birdie to get to dormie two up, but lost the 17th. On the 18th Giles played a superb shot to within 5ft of the pin which was eventually conceded for the win.

Behind them, England international Bethan Popel and Alex Saunders also birdied 16 to be dormie two up and also lost 17. But they too held on to their advantage, helped by an excellent long approach putt from Popel which finished close to the hole. It was the first time this week that their opponents, international Olivia Winning and Alison Knowles, had been beaten in the foursomes.

The teams now head into the afternoon singles and the winners of the match will take become English County Champions.

The other four teams at County Finals are battling for places in the table. Surrey lead Staffordshire 2.5-0.5 after the foursomes. Martha Lewis and Alice Spani-Molella halved with Staffordshire’s Emily Brennan and Gina Wilkie; Lauren Horsford and Nicola Taylor won 6/5; and the final game was conceded to Surrey after Staffordshire’s Morgan Thomas hurt her back.

In the third match Norfolk and Gloucestershire shared the foursomes points. Tracey Williamson and her daughter, Amelia, won the first point 3/1 for Norfolk; the bottom game was won 2up by Buckinghamshire’s Lucy Matthews and Lizi Sweetnam and the middle game was halved.

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Caption: Gloucestershire’s Bethan Popel and Alex Saunders (image © Leaderboard Photography)