1ST TEAM RUN COMES TO AN END WITH DEFEAT TO ESSEX
HERTS COUNTY 1ST TEAM FROM L TO R, LUKE COLGATE, JASON MITCHELL, JAMES SURRIDGE, JACK SLATER, MATT SMITH, TONY WILKINS, BEN HARMAN & ALEX COLLMAN
The County 1st Team suffered a heavy blow to their hopes of winning the South East League title this year when they lost last weekend (Sun 2 July) 8.5 - 3.5 to their Essex counterparts at Hadley Wood.
The season leading up to this fixture had gone extremely well with two victories out of two, away to Middlesex and home to Bedfordshire, but Essex were always likely to be a different proposition as they are perennial title challengers with lots of strong players at their disposal.
The morning foursomes looked like swaying towards Hertfordshire when through the turn Herts appeared to have the upper hand in most of the matches. The 1st match with the Herts pairing of County Champion Tony Wilkins and Ben Harman were level with their opponents on the last hole in a high quality affair, only to lose the last hole to a birdie 3 when Jamie Richards holed a long putt on the final green to claim victory 1 up. The new partnership of County Captain Alex Collman and James Surridge dominated their match out 2nd and ultimately won on the 17th green, 2&1, against the Essex pairing of ex Pro Jay Beisser and 16 year old Curtis Knipes, who recently won the Essex County Championship. Both the last two matches seemed to ebb and flow but Essex did enough to claim the 4th match 2&1 with Herts desperately unlucky on the 17th hole when Luke Colgate's iron shot into the green carried over the top of the flag, onto a poorly placed rake at the back of the green and into a nearby bush!! In the 3rd match the pairing of Jason Mitchell and Matt Smith were one down playing the last hole but won the last with a steady par to square their match and leave the halftime score at 2.15-1.5 to Essex.
The afternoon singles were led out by recent Colts Champion Jack Slater for Herts against Michael Gilbert for Essex, the Henry Cooper Junior Masters winner in 2016. Jack got off to a tremendous start, 3 birdies in the first four holes to be 4 up, however Michael fought back and chipped away at the lead and would finally claim the point on the 18th green. In stark contrast in the 2nd match County Captain Alex Collman had a slow start and was 4 down to Jamie Richards after 6 holes. He would then put in a real captains shift to grind something out and got back into the match but ultimately would succumb on the 17th green. Herts did put two points on the board in the middle order when James Surridge, having an excellent debut season for the 1st team defeated Callum Pipe 3&2 and Matt Smith impressively defeated Curtis Knipes 4&3. However this would not be added to and Essex eventually ran out clear winners. In the final match Tony Wilkins had a rare misjudgment on the last green and took 3 putts to allow his opponent to halve the hole and take the match 1 up when a half looked in the offing. So Essex won the singles 6 to 2 to convincingly win the match.
This result leaves Essex in a strong position in the league with two remaining home fixtures to Bedfordshire and Middlesex. Herts last league match will be against BB&O next month (Aug 6) at Frilford Heath.
Essex also beat Herts at Colts level last weekend when they won 7.5-4.5 at Abridge Golf Club. A great weekend for Essex County Golf and not such a weekend to remember for Herts County Golf!