Somerset and Staffordshire grabbed the early advantage in a low-scoring foursomes session on the first day of the English Men’s County Finals at Trevose, Cornwall.
Somerset lead Hampshire 2-1 and Staffordshire are 2.5-0.5 against Northumberland after a series of games which were spattered with birdies and eagles. Downwind shots on a bright and breezy morning were eye-catching, for example on the 5th where players were managing about 350 yards off the tee.
Somerset set the scoring tone when England international Josh Hilleard and partner Jamie Clare covered the first nine holes in four-under par. They were 4up at the turn and went on to win 5/4. Between them the two pairs amassed 10 birdies.
The second game was similar, featuring 11 birdies and an eagle before Hampshire’s Billy McKenzie and Tom Robson won 3/1. They were four up with four to play, but Somerset hit back with birdies on 15 and 16. Hampshire, however, found the answer with their own birdie three on 17 to take the point.
In the third game Somerset’s Tom Sloman and Thomas Plumb got ahead early on but were pulled back to all square after 10 and briefly dropped behind after Hampshire birdied 15. They immediately struck back, returning to 1up after a winning par on 14 and a birdie on the 338-yard 15th, where their drive finished pin-high. They stayed ahead for the remaining holes.
In the other match the top game, between Northumberland’s Phil Ridden and Andy Minnikin and Staffordshire’s Gian-Marco Petrozzi and Lewis Pearce, included three eagles – and a tremendous tussle on the back nine. Northumberland were ahead for most of the game, but Staffordshire’s eagle two on 15 squared matters and the teams shared the point.
Staffordshire proved remarkably strong finishers in the next game. Jake Whalley and Tom Hewitt got back to all square with a birdie on 11, moved one ahead with a par on 14, got to 2up when they holed out of a greenside bunker on 15 for an eagle two and claimed their 3/2 win with a birdie two on the 16th.
In the last game of the morning, Staffordshire’s Jack Gaunt and Ryan Brooks (pictured above) scorched ahead. After the 10th, which they eagled, they were 6up and six-under par. But Northumberland put up a great fight on the closing holes and, helped by three birdies, reduced the deficit to 2 holes before bowing out on the 17th.
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