MEN'S 1ST TEAM PICTURED AT LETCHWORTH GC, FROM L TO R, TONY WILKINS, CAPTAIN ALEX COLLMAN, ED GREEN, JOSS GOSLING, NIALL JOHNSTON, LAURIE OWEN, HARRY GODDARD, PHIL DORMER AND MANAGER JIM ABRAHAM
Report from Manager Jim Abraham;
LEAGUE MATCH – SUNDAY 4th AUGUST 2019
HERTFORDSHIRE MENS 1ST TEAM - HOME MATCH AGAINST ESSEX
The Hertfordshire Men’s First Team played out their 3rd league match of the year at Letchworth Golf Club on Sunday 4th August with Essex the visitors. This has always been a notoriously difficult match with Essex always playing a strong side. However, the Hertfordshire team were buoyed after winning their 2 previous league matches and so a competitive match was anticipated, and so it proved.
Protecting an impressive unbeaten record in this year’s foursomes, it was left to Tony Wilkins and Captain Alex Collman to lead the team out against Alex Christie and Aaron Edwards-Hill. With extremely true greens, a birdie fest was expected but it was a 3 putt on the 5th by the home side that gave Essex an early advantage. By the turn this advantage had increased to 3 up and although Tony and Alex produced 4 birdies in the match it was not enough. Essex eventually ran out 5&3 winners to take the first foursomes point off Hertfordshire this season.
The new pairing of Phil Dormer and County Champion Joss Gosling were next out and also found themselves 1 down playing the 6th. By the turn they had turned the match around and were 1 up. The lead was increased to 3 up by the 12th and our first point of the day was secured on the 15th green as the match ended up 4&3.
Hertfordshire’s 3rd pairing got off to a flyer with Ed Green and Niall Johnston 2 up as early as the 5th. This lead could easily have been more but Ed’s 12 foot birdie putt on the 5th was left agonizingly hanging over the front lip of the hole. The lead was increased to 3 up at the turn and 4 up after the 12th but the match took an unexpected swing with the lead being cut to 1 playing the 16th hole. A much needed birdie for the home side meant they were dormy on the 17th. A solid par was enough to close the match out 2&1.
With a lunchtime advantage seen as crucial it was left to Harry Goddard and Laurie Owen to get something from their match. It didn’t start too well with the pair 1 down after 4 and 2 down at the turn. A hat trick of birdies after the turn added to the one on the 9th and levelled the match up after the 14th. Additional birdies on the 15th and 16th made it an unbelievable 6 from 8 holes and the match point was banked with a 3&1 victory.
The team sat down for lunch with a 3-1 advantage making it 11 points from 12 in this year’s foursomes. It was a confident squad that returned for the afternoon’s singles albeit a mindful one and fully aware that Essex would come out strong after the break.
Harry Goddard was first up for the home side and got off to a red hot start finding himself 3 up after 8 holes. The lead remained unchanged after the 12th hole until a birdie on 15th secured the first afternoon point 4&3.
Match 2 was proving to be a crucial one with Hertfordshire looking to increase their lead in the match to 5-1 and Essex needing to get themselves back in it. With Phil Dormer being matched against Alex Christie it was an extremely close affair with nothing separating the players after 7 holes. Essex looked to be winning the par 3 8th until a moment of magic from the greenside bunker meant a tap in par for Phil and a vital half. A wonder approach from Phil on the 11th set up a birdie and the match was secured 2 up after Alex found trouble on the 18th. The point meant the home side had a healthy advantage in the match with the impressive Philip taking his 6th point from 6 league matches this season.
Match 3 was a far different affair with Ed Green up against Aaron Edwards-Hill. With Edwards-Hill seemingly unable to miss a putt, Ed was 5 down through 11 holes and Essex were back in the match with a 7&6 win.
Joss Gosling was 4th out and although playing extremely well, it was a frustrated player who found himself 1 down playing the 11th. A solid run of holes got him back level and with his opponent in trouble on the 15th, he took a 1 up advantage into the last 3 holes. It was time for a steady head and with Harry Goddard now on the bag, a fine approach on the 17th got the job done with a 2&1 winning margin.
The home side were now holding a 6-2 advantage with 4 matches still on the course. A half point was needed to secure their 3rd straight win. Unfortunately this was not proving easy with all 4 players down at the turn.
Tony Wilkins was also playing some great stuff but opponent Joe Tatam was equally impressive and held a 3 hole lead early into the back 9. A fightback looked on the cards after a wonderful slam dunk chip on the 12th but a 10 foot birdie putt was missed on the 17th and the match finished 2/1 to the visitors.
Following Tony was team Captain Alex Collman who won the 9th hole to be just 1 back at the turn. The match remained close all the way to the 18th until an errant 3 wood left Alex taking a drop and the chance of the winning half point was gone.
With Laurie Owen struggling and always behind in the last match it didn’t look likely that match 8 would end with any reward. This was the case as the visiting Harry Butler saw the match out 3&2 on the 16th.
Therefore it was down to match 7 and home player Niall Johnston to try and secure the win and it was proving to be a real match of 2 half's. With Niall missing a short birdie putt on the 9th and his opponent boxing one from 20 foot, Niall was 4 down going into the back 9. The fightback started on the 10th with a great birdie and continued in unbelievable fashion with successive eagles including holing out from 141 yards on the par 5 12th. The match remained tight until Jack Dyer of Essex won the 16th with a fine birdie to go dormy. However, the drama wasn’t finished. With Niall putting first and holing a must make birdie from 20 foot on the 17th he was just 1 down playing the last. 2 excellent shots left him a 15 foot putt to half the match but the run couldn’t continue and 2 pars meant that Essex had completed an impressive fightback to half the overall match.
The final score of 6-6 was in reflection a fair result and both sets of players must take praise for producing an enthralling contest that was still alive until the last putt.
The team’s final match is away to BB&O on the Blue course at Frilford Heath on the 1st September and will be a winner takes all for the league title. Good luck to all the squad!
THE RANGE AT LETCHWORTH SET UP FOR THE COUNTY PLAYERS PRIOR TO PLAY