Title race is blown wide open

James Cooper

The title race at the English Boys’ County Championship is wide open after Wiltshire and Northamptonshire both bounced back from first day defeats to win their matches today.

It means they join Yorkshire and Hertfordshire with one win apiece after two days of the championship at Cumberwell Park in Wiltshire.

All four counties are in with a chance of winning the title tomorrow when the round robin match is completed – and it’s quite likely that a countback will be needed to decide the destination of the trophy.

As matters currently stand Wiltshire – the defending champions – hold a slender advantage, having won 10.5 games so far. Yorkshire and Northamptonshire have each won nine, while Hertfordshire have amassed 7.5.

Today, Northamptonshire were first to play their way back into the championship, defeating Yorkshire 5-4. They declared their intentions with a 2-1 win in the foursomes, helped by inspirational play from Ben Jones and Callum Farr who had a run of five consecutive birdies, followed by two eagles.

Northamptonshire made their debut at Boys’ County Finals last year and this was their first win from five foursomes sessions. “That gave us a lot of confidence,” said team coach Adam Myers. “Knowing that we only had to halve the afternoon singles was a big boost.”

In the afternoon, Jones led the way and, helped by yet another eagle, claimed the first singles point. The next three games went Yorkshire’s way but Northamptonshire finished strongly with wins from their youngest two players, Robin Williams – who has won all four of his games – and Charlie Salter (pictured below).

“We have some big characters in our team and they thrive under pressure,” said Myers, who had picked up his side after yesterday’s defeat by reminding them: “It’s still all to play for and if we beat Yorkshire we are still in with a chance.”

In the other match, Wiltshire defeated Hertfordshire 6.5-2.5 and won the praise of team manager Ian Welding. “They were just unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable,” he said.

“Yesterday a couple of putts didn’t go our way but we played some good golf. I knew if we just had the belief we could turn things around and the guys embraced that.”

Wiltshire also laid the foundations of their success with a 2-1 foursomes win. Then James Cooper – a member of the host club – set them on course in the singles when he squeezed past Danny Daniels to win one up after an excellent game. Cooper was seven under par, with the highlights including an eagle two on 17 to get back to all square and a conceded birdie on the last for his point.

Jamie Cooper edged them closer with a halved result against Jon Hopkins, who holed a monster putt for an eagle two on the 17th and followed up with another good putt for a birdie on 18 to get back on level terms.

Jake Bolton birdied the par three 16th to win 3/2 and guarantee Wiltshire a halved result, before Ollie Jeans provided the winning point with his 2up victory. “We were disappointed yesterday and we knew we needed to win today – and we had loads of belief,” he said.

Tom Stagg completed Wiltshire’s scoreline, finishing two up after birdies on the 16th and 18th.

Tomorrow’s order of play is: Yorkshire v Hertfordshire, starting at 8am. Wiltshire v Northamptonshire, starting at 8.24am.

Click here for full results and start times

Image copyright Leaderboard Photography