DevonGolf’s Senior side returned to winning ways with a dominant singles performance against Wiltshire at Stover.
Needing to kick start their defence of the title after two close losses at home to Glamorgan and away to Somerset there were five changes to the team which played Somerset, Tim Aggett and Peter Bicknell coming back in having been unavailable for Minehead, Andre Hogan, Simon Waddington and Mark Haskell making their season debuts.
The morning session was really tight, playing the back 9 at Stover. Leading off, Aggett and Colin Papworth got 2 up on Paul Bloomfield (Kingsdown) and Chris Graham (Ogbourne Downs) but were pegged back to a half. Hogan and Bicknell were imperious in the second game, But Kev Arthur (Marlborough) and Per Axel Waranjo (High Post) inflicted a rare defeat on Tony Allsopp and Richard Ward.
Wiltshire were up in the two remaining matches; Scott Talbot (Wrag Barn) and Martin Evans (Upavon) wrapped up the last game for the visitors. Phil Lyons and Paul Vicary were 2 down with three to play to Simon Dymoke (The Wiltshire) and Nigel Phillips (Kingsdown), but took 16 with a par and 17 with a birdie following a superb Vicary putt. Short of the 18th in 2, Vicary produced a spectacular pitch to within 5 feet which Lyons calmly holed. 3 putts from the opposition and suddenly the game was won and the session shared.
That seemed to give the side momentum into the afternoon. The top order gave the side exactly the start they needed. Aggett got a good early lead against a misfiring Arthur, then piled in 3 birdies in 5 holes to close him out. Bicknell and Hogan carried on where they had left off in the morning, Bicknell always in control against Waranjo, Hogan making birdies for fun against Bloomfield. Captain Papworth followed this up with another big win in the fourth game, beating Graham at the 13th.
Ward, Allsopp and Waddington all came to the par 3 13th with 3 or 4-hole leads. All held off challenges from their Wiltshire opponents to win on the 15th, the Allsopp win guaranteeing Devon the match win. It was a question of how many points Devon would win.
Vicary was also in complete control of the final game and defeated Evans, again at the 15th. Haskell and Lyons were engaged in very much closer matches. Haskell had an early lead over Talbot, but the 13th again had a say as Talbot levelled the game. 2 great shots from Haskell into the 16th got his nose back in front, and having halved the 17th he holed a testing 6-footer to also halve the last and win his match.
Lyons was 3-down to Dymoke after 11 but holed a superb birdie putt at 12, beginning a fight back which had them all square playing the 16th where Dymoke got back in front holing an excellent putt for 4. Lyons immediately struck back at 17 with a conceded 3 and when Dymoke’s approach to the final hole clipped the trees and went out of bounds Lyons had won and completed a full house of singles wins for Devon.
A final result of 12½ to 2½ was more than could have been expected at the lunch break. Getting the first win of the season is vital for the side in a season when everyone seems to be beating everyone else. With 3 more games to come there is still plenty to play for.
Huge appreciation to Stover for hosting the event, and thanks for the way the players were looked after throughout the day and the quality of the presentation of the course, which was superb.
Attention now turns to the County Championship at Tiverton on Thursday, after which Captain Colin will announce his team for the qualifier for English Senior County Finals to be staged as a part of the South West Senior Championships, also at Tiverton at the end of the month.