It was heartache of the worst kind for DevonGolf Seniors in the South West Seniors' Championships at Tiverton Golf Club. They lost their trip to the National Seniors' County Finals as Dorset won on the countback system which prevails in the tournament.
Over the two days there is both an individual and a team tournament, teams of 6 from which the best 5 scores each day count toward the team total. The first day belonged to Dorset, the Yeovil pair of Gary Earl and John Pounder setting the pace with 71 and 72 respectively. Cornwall’s Senior Captain Andy Rowe shot 72 and DevonGolf's ever reliable Paul Vicary (Saunton) shot 73, as did East Devon’s Paul Newcombe with Torquay’s DevonGolf Senior Champion Peter Bicknell on 74 alongside the Dorset County Champion Tony Coles (Ashley Wood).
With Tiverton’s Tony Allsopp carding 75 and Warren’s Tim Aggett 77 and all of Dorset’s team scores 75 and under and inside the tournament top 15, Dorset had a 6-shot lead to take into the second day, 366 to 372. Gloucestershire were just 5 shots further back on 377 with Cornwall on 381. Devon had work to do!
And do it they did. Aggett led the fightback with a best-of-tournament 1-under par 69, whilst Vicary produced 74 to once again secure the Super Senior prize in the individual and bringing the teams close again. Bicknell shot 73, Newcombe 74 and Allsopp 78, and with both Earl and Pounder struggling to reproduce their first day form the match was on.
The experience of the Dorset sextet showed. Coles shot 73, Dave Barton 75 and Ferndown’s Phillip Bill an excellent level par 70. As the players gathered around the score board it was clear this was going to be very close.
Not just close. It turned out the sides were tied on 740 for 36 holes. Devon had made up the 6-shot deficit, but would it be enough? How would the sides be split? Back 18 card playoff or actual playoff?
The administrators retired to consult the Rules of the Competition, which proved a massive disappointment for the Devon team. In the event of a tie the two discarded scores from each day become the countback. Dorset had discounted 76 and 80, Devon a pair of 79s; that 2-shot Dorset advantage meant they would represent the South West Group at Effingham in Surrey in October.
Phillip Bill’s 70 gave him the individual title on 145, a shot ahead of Tim Aggett (77-69) and Kingsdown’s Paul Bloomfield (74-72) representing Wiltshire who was the only player in the top 6 not from the top two counties. Tony Coles took 4th spot on countback ahead of Peter Bicknell and Paul Newcombe with Paul Vicary tied on the same mark.
In the team qualifier Gloucester were third on 758, ahead of Cornwall on 765, Wiltshire on 782 and Somerset on 794. Next year’s tournament is at Bristol and Clifton Golf Club, again in late July.