Yorkshire and Hertfordshire take first day honours

Tom North

Yorkshire and Hertfordshire took the first day honours in the English Boys’ County Championship on a day of blazing sunshine at Cumberwell Park in Wiltshire.

Yorkshire came through a terrific tussle to beat defending champions Wiltshire by 5-4. Meanwhile Hertfordshire were also well tested before beating Northamptonshire – last year’s runners-up – by the same score.

Much of the golf was as hot as the weather with birdies frequently needed to close out games. But Yorkshire coach Steve Robinson took his team straight to the putting green after play to fine-tune for their game tomorrow!

“I feel proud of the lads and the way they have all battled,” he said. “It was a very tough afternoon and we never thought for one minute that Wiltshire was going to be a pushover. They battled for every point, as we expected – and so did we.”

Yorkshire had the edge after winning the morning foursomes 2-1, but Wiltshire came out fast in the singles and won the first two games by healthy margins, courtesy of Cumberwell Park player James Cooper, who birdied the 16th to win 4/2, and Jake Bolton who won 5/4.

But Yorkshire’s Barclay Brown levelled the scores again with his own birdie finish on 15 for a 5/4 win. Charlie Thornton carried on the Yorkshire momentum with a par, birdie, birdie finish to win on the 17th.

Then it was Jamie Cooper’s turn to fightback for Wiltshire, closing out his match with a birdie on the 17th. But Yorkshire’s Tom North (pictured top), playing in the last game, took his team over the line on the 18th, having withstood a fightback from Tom Stagg and securing his point with yet another birdie.

Barclay Brown who won both his matches today – as did his foursomes partner Charlie Thornton – declared afterwards: “It’s better winning for a team than for yourself!”  He made short work of both his games, and was five-under both morning and afternoon.

For Wiltshire’s James Cooper there was also the consolation of a 100% record. “I want to try and win every game as it’s my home club, but as long as the team wins, that’s what matters.” However, that wasn’t to be today.

Hertfordshire are making their first appearance at Boys’ County Finals since 2010 – when they won the title. Charlie Wilkinson (pictured below), who clinched the day’s win with his 2up victory, is hoping for a repeat performance and comments: “We have a solid team, the strongest team we can put out.”

The team also got ahead of in the morning with two foursomes wins against Northamptonshire and when play started in the afternoon their opening singles was quite spectacular.

Danny Daniels, who reached the last eight in the British boys’ championship, took on boy international Callum Farr, who recently helped England to win the Boys’ Home Internationals. Daniels had nine birdies, while Farr had six and the match eventually finished 2/1 in Hertfordshire’s favour.

Hertfordshire’s other point was provided by James Clark, who was down for several holes on the outward nine but got ahead as he turned for home and steadily worked his way to a 4/2 win.

Hertfordshire team manager Chris James commented: “I’m delighted with them all. They had a great approach and managed their game well and were level-headed all the way round.”

Northamptonshire’s singles points were scored by Ben Jones, who won 5/4, and by Luke Barney and Robin Williams, who both won on the last.

Tomorrow Yorkshire play Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire take on Wiltshire.

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Captions: (Top) Yorkshire’s Tom North took his team over the winning line. (Below) Charlie Wilkinson (left) shakes hands with opponent Fergus Robinson after doing the same for Hertfordshire. (Images © Leaderboard Photography)