MEN'S 1ST TEAM AT HADLEY WOOD, FROM L TO R, JAMES SURRIDGE, LAURIE OWEN, TONY WILKINS, LOUIS MATAMALA (MANAGER), JASON MITCHELL, MATT SMITH, LUKE COLGATE, BEN HARMAN & JACK SLATER
REPORT FROM MEN'S 1st TEAM MANAGER LOUIS MATAMALA:
After all the recent dry and warm weather this summer, last Sunday's (July 29) weather conditions came as a bit of a shock to the system for the last league match of the Men's 1st Team season at Hadley Wood vs BB&O. A decidedly cool, wet and windy day greeted the players first thing and remained that way for the duration of the match.
Despite a disappointing SEG Men's qualifier at Orsett earlier in the month, the team have had a good 2018 league season with wins recorded against Bedfordshire and Middlesex and a loss away to a strong Essex team on a real 'homers' golf course at Chelmsford. As it stands Essex have played 3 won 3 and have a match away to Bedfordshire at The Millbrook in September and look odds on to win the division and take a place in the Regional Final. So it looked like the match vs BB&O would be a playoff for the runners up spot, barring a minor miracle at The Millbrook. BB&O of course won the SEG Men's qualifier with an incredible -10 score at Orsett and have the National Finals to look forward to in October. However all of the team who represented BB&O on that day were not available to face us, with all of them up in the North West preparing themselves for this weeks English Amateur Championship at Formby and Hesketh. Our own Jack Slater is playing in the event this week but such is his dedication to the team, he decided to travel up straight after the match on Sunday evening and play 36 holes of practice rounds on the Monday!
At lunchtime the score in the match was 2-2, so very finely balanced indeed. Wins for Herts were recorded in match 2 for Jason Mitchell and Laurie Owen, who after being 3 down early on went on an incredible run of holes including a hole out eagle 2 on the par 4 11th, when Jason holed his 9 iron from the right rough from circa 130 yards (that's one way to avoid putting on such a tricky green!!), and in match 4 for Tony Wilkins and Matt Smith who dominated their match from the outset.
The afternoon singles were, as always, tight encounters for the most part and at around the halfway point it seemed like we would come up just shy of what was required for the win. Jason would lose out in the top singles to Rory Browne 4&3, but in match 2 Tony played some excellent golf in difficult conditions to cancel out BB&O's lead and won his match with a birdie on the 15th to win 4&3. Jack Slater in match 3 had a tight game which went the distance, which Jack would only claim victory by holing a 25 foot putt on the last green for 1 up. In match 4 Ben Harman was out of sorts and eventually lost his match on the 14th green. In match 5 County Champion James Surridge, himself no slouch off the tee by any stretch, was playing the long hitting Shane Slatter in a ball striking masterclass of a game which again went to the 18th green, but this time Shane would hole the long putt to claim a half for BB&O. When Luke Colgate lost his match on the 15th green it looked like BB&O would go on to claim victory, but thankfully our tail wagged! Matt Smith was 1 down with 4 to play but turned his match round to lead by 1 up the last and held on to claim victory, whereas Laurie Owen was level with 4 to play and turned that into a 2&1 victory. Final score 6.5 - 5.5 to Herts.
So all in all a very pleasing victory against an always competitive BB&O which gave us a league season of played 4, won 3.
We now patiently wait for the Beds v Essex result but at the very least we have secured 2nd place in the league which is as well as we've done for several years.
Congratulations to County Captain Alex Collman and his squad on a highly successful and enjoyable season.