Yorkshire are English Men’s County Champions for the 22nd time – snatching their victory by the tiny margin of half a game point at the end of three days’ intense competition at Aldeburgh Golf Club.
Today’s title showdown against Gloucestershire was a nail-biter which ended in a halved match and meant the destination of the trophy was decided by the number of game points won by the two teams.
Yorkshire triumphed with 16, to Gloucestershire’s 15.5. The Northern team amassed their precious advantage on the first day when they beat Lincolnshire 6.5-2.5 and captain Darryl Berry commented: “I knew that half point could matter!”
They followed up with yesterday’s 5-4 win over BB&O, (Berks, Bucks and Oxon), while Gloucestershire also won both their opening matches, to set up today’s grand finale.
It was tight from the word go, with the morning foursomes shared after a fighting performance from Gloucestershire, who at one point were down in all three games.
David Hague and Ben Hutchinson sped off to post Yorkshire’s first point, playing two-under par to win 6/5. But Gloucestershire’s Mitch Waite and Joe Long managed to draw level with their opponents with a 16th hole birdie and brought in a half point. Then Nick Day and Alex Ireland transformed their score from 1 down after 14 to win 2up.
Hague was quickly off the blocks again when he led out the singles on a chilly afternoon. He was five-up on England team-mate Waite after nine holes and went on to win 4/3 to edge Yorkshire ahead.
Before long Joe Harvey put the two teams back on level footing when he won 3/2 – and from then on the tension ramped up, with plenty of cheers ringing around the superb course.
Gloucestershire’s Long won an epic battle against fellow England player Gill when he holed a 10ft birdie putt on the 18th. Yorkshire’s Sam Bairstow withstood a determined challenge from Nick Day over the closing holes but held grimly on to his lead to win 1 up.
The final two games both fell one to each team, with Gloucestershire’ Jake Phillips winning 2/1 while 16-year-old Ben Schmidt, playing at the end of the order, won 3/2.
The result is a special double for Schmidt – and for Yorkshire – for the teenager was also a member of the winning team which won the English Boys’ County Championship earlier this season.
Berry summed up for his team when he said: “I’m so proud of them. People don’t understand how hard this is, it’s an endurance test as well as golf. But they have got their reward and that’s all that matters.”
In the day’s other match Lincolnshire ended the championship on a high after they defeated BB&O 5-4 for their first win of the week and played their way into third place overall.
They staged a remarkable come back in the singles after scraping just a half point in the foursomes, courtesy of Matt Haynes and Liam Bell. In the singles, though, there was no stopping them with a half from Sam Done and full points from Jack Diment, Simon Richardson, Adam Wainwright and Chris Haynes.
Team captain Steve Brattan said: “They were just outstanding. We’ve punched above our weight and that’s good for Lincolnshire.”
Final placings: 1 Yorkshire, 2 Gloucestershire, 3 Lincolnshire 4 BB&O
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