SUSSEX and Yorkshire will lock horns in a mouth-watering final day contest to decide the winners of the Senior Men’s County Finals.
Yorkshire have the bit between their teeth after a 6-3 victory against Lincolnshire kept them on track to repeat their 2017 success in this championship.
Sussex – bridesmaids in each of the last two years – have their eyes firmly on the prize thanks to the 7-2 defeat of Dorset.
In a competition which promises to go right down to the wire, Sussex have the added cushion of knowing a draw against Yorkshire would be enough to see them crowned champions.
In the event of the teams being tied on match points, Sussex would prevail by virtue of the number of game points won over the course of the three-day round robin event.
In blustery, but largely sunny and dry conditions there was some excellent golf on show at the pristine Effingham GC in Surrey.
For Sussex captain Rick Thomas, the thought of final day tension induced strong feelings of déjà vu.
“We’ve been here before!” said Thomas wryly, referring to runner up finishes in the previous two years when Yorkshire and then Lancashire pipped his team to the post.
“The north have had us both times so we’ll see what happens this time.
“Last year was agony for everyone when Lancashire holed a huge putt to swing the match their way.
“However, to a man, all members of the team were up for coming back again strongly this year.
“For me this is a fantastic week and a great event to be a part of. It’s very well run by England Golf.
“It’s an intense three days of competition and a challenging format, but we all love it and keep coming back.
“Now we have to keep going. The great strength of this team is the togetherness – they have been through so much as a group, but they encourage and support each other and that’s what brings us to this point again.”
Yorkshire captain John Grimbleby should have skippered his team to glory in 2017.
However, he missed the event to help his wife recuperate from knee surgery and is eager to sample a champagne moment two years on.
“I let a colleague take over on that occasion and I’m just glad to get a chance to be here and in with a hope of winning again,” said Grimbleby.
“We have a really strong squad with two England internationals in Rich Jones and Richard Norton, but we have great strength in depth.
“A special mention must go to Stephen Mason who has won all three games he’s played in so far.
“He turned 65 in August and then got down to scratch for the first time a few weeks later.
“Now he’s playing superbly here and as a team we’re all really looking forward to a great game against Sussex.”
Both Sussex and Yorkshire went into day two full of confidence and nothing that happened in the morning foursomes did anything to chip away at that growing self-belief.
Sussex stamped their superiority on their match with Dorset by claiming a 2.5-0.5 lead from the three foursomes games.
Colin Jones and Doug Park claimed a handsome 5&4 win against John Smith and Favid Beaton.
However, the other two games were much tighter.
Martin Galway and Malcolm Cawte won their clash with Gary Earl and John Pounder on the 18th hole.
Steve Graham and Martin King halved their match with Tony Coles and Ashley Bennett.
A handsome lead at lunch took some of the pressure off and the afternoon singles resulted in a comprehensive win for last season’s runners up.
There were wins for Galway, Cawte, Mark Logan and Graham while Park took half a point from his game with Philip Bell.
Dorset’s solitary win in the singles came thanks to a good show from Ashley Beckett in a 5&4 win over Paul Plant.
Yorkshire’s bid was firmly on track after a 3-0 morning whitewash of Lincolnshire.
Jones and Norton gave little away in a 5&3 win against Colin Trentrail and Jeremy Woodcock.
Mason and Alan Wright were equally ruthless in their 4&3 triumph against Paul Wharton and Richard Latham.
It was a lot closer in the match involving Andy King and Ian Clarke and Tim Seaton and Simon Ostrom, however the Yorkshire pair edged it by one hole.
Perhaps a little dispirited as they faced up to a second successive defeat, Lincolnshire hoped for a fast start in the afternoon but soon found themselves under the cosh.
Norton, Mason and Wright all put points on the board for Yorkshire before the middle order of Lincolnshire rallied with Les Toyne and Tim Seaton winning their games.
In the final match on course Johnny Lawrence and Simon Ostrom went down the last. Ostrom holed an eight foot putt to eke out a point for Lincolnshire.
Now it all comes down to the clash of the top two with Dorset and Lincolnshire playing for pride in the other tie.
Photograph credit: Leaderboard