Yorkshire won a hard fought match against Warwickshire today to become the English Senior Men’s County Champions for the first time.
Their opponents battled them all the way but Yorkshire pulled out the stops to snatch critical points on the 17th and 18th greens and emerge the 5-4 winners at Goswick Golf Club, Northumberland.
Team captain Tony Greenhalgh summed up: “We are absolutely ecstatic. It’s the first time we have won this trophy and so it’s very special.”
Greenhalgh was standing in this week for regular captain, John Grimbleby, who was unable to lead the team because of family commitments. “I feel a bit of a fraud because John has captained the team all year,” said Greenhalgh. “But we’re delighted to bring it home for him.”
At the start of today’s matches Yorkshire were in pole position, having already beaten Sussex and Gloucestershire. They knew a win or a half would guarantee them their victory, but a defeat would mean a countback and bring Warwickshire and Sussex into the reckoning.
Sussex wanted a big win today to support their challenge in the event of a countback. But Gloucestershire ended their title hopes when they held them to a draw, posting their first point on the leaderboard.
“It’s Gloucestershire grit!” joked team captain Rob Stephens after his players found a magic touch on the 18th green. First Carl Gyde holed from about 50ft for a winning birdie to finish 2up, then Mike Parkin slotted a 20-footer to halve as the team worked their way to the 4.5-4.5 score, with four of the six singles finishing on the 18th.
“It was a great match and we owed it to the other teams to be as competitive as we could,” added Stephens.
Meanwhile, Yorkshire and Warwickshire were locked in battle. Yorkshire held a 2-1 lead after the foursomes, helped by gritty play from Garry Cuthbert and Peter Ward, who won despite being one down after 15.
As the singles unfolded, Warwickshire took charge and, with six holes played, they trailed in only one game. Andrew Carman kept the momentum going as he eased to a 6/5 win and Tony Allen edged the team ahead when he won on the 17th.
The tension mounted as the final games played out the closing holes. Yorkshire’s Johnny Lawrence, who was ahead throughout his game, added his point on the 17th. Yorkshire’s Andy King waited until the 17th before getting ahead in his game, but then held on to claim his 1up win. But Warwickshire’s Peter Gordon kept the team tally level when he also won 1up.
The decider was the last game on the course and Yorkshire’s Peter Ward and Warwickshire’s Rob Soen were all square as they stood on the 18th tee.
Soen hit a superb approach into the green which finished about 3ft from the hole, but Ward did even better, playing in to within 6in of the cup. It proved to be the winner when Soen’s birdie attempt slipped past, putting the title was securely in Yorkshire’s grasp.
“It was a very demanding afternoon,” said Greenhalgh. “I kept looking at the scoreboard and Warwickshire were comfortably ahead. But Johnny Lawrence, Andy King and Peter Ward brought in the points when we needed them.”
Sussex finished the championship as runners-up, followed by Warwickshire and then Gloucestershire.
Image copyright Leaderboard Photography