Back row (L-R) Barrie Keith (Warren), Tony Allsopp (Tiverton) Mark Haskell (Teignmouth), Simon Waddington (Tiverton) Colin Papworth (Exeter)
It was a case of so near yet too far for Devon Seniors at the Southern Counties Foursomes Final at Ealing GC. The course was superbly presented, but the sloping greens stimping at around 12 proved difficult in the heavy wind.
15 counties contested the event. The final features the winners of 4 qualifiers played earlier this year. In addition to the Devon side, Sussex, Hertfordshire and Norfolk were involved. The format is a little complex, but over 2 sessions of foursomes matches each county plays a series of games against each of the others. Each county will have 4 games against 1 county, 3 against the other 2. The best overall result wins the trophy.
The team were really grateful to Simon Waddington who came in as a last minute injury replacement for the injured Peter Bicknell, who hurt his back playing in Sunday’s Parker Trophy Final.
Devon opened with 2 games against Norfolk and Sussex in the morning session, with 1 against Herts. It was the perfect start with Tim Aggett and Colin Papworth beating Norfolk’s top pair at the 16th. Richard Ward and Tony Allsopp followed up with a 2/1 win again over Norfolk. Paul Vicary and Barrie Keith were also successful, winning 3/1 over Gavin Park and Peter Crowther of Sussex.
Captain Rick Pillow, playing with Waddington, were in trouble against Dave Scammell and Lewis Watcham of Herts but fought gamely to the 17th. The key match was the fourth, Mark Haskell and Dave Eva playing Paul Plant and David Alderson of Sussex. A brilliant approach to the 15th gave the Devon boys a lead, but they couldn’t withstand the Sussex fight back over the remaining holes, Plant and Alderson winning at the last.
That left Devon and Sussex tied on 3 match wins, with Devon just ahead on the countback of the individual game results. After the other results Herts had 2½, Norfolk 1½.
Two matches each against Sussex and Herts came after lunch. Sussex first and Aggett and Papworth again led off and delivered a 4/3 win over Mark Logan and Martin King. Doug Park and Roy Stevenson defeated Ward and Allsopp at the 17th. Next came Herts and Vicary and Keith were again victorious, beating Mike Ready and Bob Head. Haskell and Eva Found Bob Peacock and Matt Cohen on top putting form losing 3/2. 2 wins and 2 losses, but Pillow and Waddington came through, winning at the last against Tony Richards and Michael Horley of Norfolk. 6 match points for the day - would it be enough?
It wouldn’t – Norfolk completely collapsed in the afternoon, losing all 5 of their games, 2 each to Sussex and Herts, meaning Devon could only be second at best. The key would be the single afternoon game between Sussex and Herts. Sussex looked to be in control through David Blundell and Malcolm Cawte, but Scammell and Watcham fought back until their momentum was lost with an awful lot of putting at 17. At 1 up playing the last, Sussex were guaranteed to go past Devon’s total.
Sussex finished with 7 points to Devon’s 6, Herts 3rd with 5½ whilst Norfolk didn’t move on from their lunchtime total.
Skipper Rick offered great congratulations to the new champions and expressed great pride in his team’s achievement, Devon once again showing they are a side competitive at a national level.
Next up for the Senior side is the vital final Channel League match against Cornwall at East Devon on 27th September. A win ensures Devon will retain the title.