DevonGolf Seniors faced another crucial Channel League match at Teignmouth against table-toppers Gloucestershire on Thursday, 29th August. Devon’s poor start to the season means we can no longer afford to lose a game if we are to have a chance to retain the title.

There were changes from the previous week’s game in Wales, Paul Newcombe (East Devon) and Simon Waddington (Tiverton) came back in and Richard Armitage (Teignmouth) made his Senior debut at his home club, replacing Phil Lyons, Mark Haskell and Paul Vicary.

The Foursomes were incredibly close and, in a real rarity, all 5 Foursomes matches went to the final hole. Devon did not lead in any of them standing on the final tee.....

The 220-yard 18th was playing uphill into a very brisk south-westerly. Drivers and big fairway woods were the order of the day. Pete Bicknell (Torquay) and Paul Newcombe were 1-down to Mike Jarvis and Vern Chappell but a par 3 won the hole and secured the half. Next up Colin Papworth (Teignmouth) and Tim Aggett (Warren) were level with Steve Yorke and Richard Wood. Again a par did the job but Gloucestershire levelled matters as Graham Ruth (Tavistock) and Dave Eva (Thurlestone) couldn’t find a win at 18 3rd time around, arriving there and losing 1 down to Dave Williams and Bill Higgins.

Tony Allsopp (Tiverton) and Richard Ward (Dainton Park) were next through against Carl Gyde and Nick Morris, Ward holing a crucial momentum building 8-footer for a par and another Devon win. That brought final pair Waddington and debutant Armitage to the last against the hugely experienced Bob Broad and Rob Stephens. Simon hit a great tee shot onto the green, but left Richard a really awkward putt over a big hump in the green. Richard was equal to the task, laying the putt dead for the par and another win.

Despite playing the last level in 3 and down in 2, Devon accumulated 3½ points from the morning session and a handy 2-point lead.

However good a start it was, there was still a long way to go and although Bicknell put the first singles point on the board beating Jarvis up the last in a closely contested game, Aggett lost to Yorke in an equally close match, Yorke hitting a superb final tee shot to 6 feet when 1 up. Chappell subjected Newcombe to a barrage of birdies - now there was only 1 point in it.

Devon’s middle and later order were absolutely up to the task but another 3 games went to the final green, again with brilliant results for Devon.

Dave Eva won yet another really close match going up the last and beating Richard Wood, whilst right behind him Captain Colin Papworth (Teignmouth) was closing out his game with Dave Williams on the 17th. In game 6 Richard Ward was playing a real topsy turvy affair with Carl Gyde and, having been as many as 5 up at one stage, caught a bad lie off the back left edge of 16 giving Carl a chance to level the game, which he took. Richard responded brilliantly with a birdie at 17 and a solid tee shot to the front of the 18th, but aged significantly as Carl’s long distance attempt for a winning birdie at the last looked likely to fall, only turning away from the hole at the last minute.

Those 3 wins brought Devon to the brink of victory, and the squad didn’t have to wait long. Graham Ruth had been 2 up with 3 to play on Bob Broad, but lost 16 to set up an interesting finish. the 17th was halved in par. Bob ,with the honour, hit what looked a solid tee shot, Graham wasn't looking to just follow suit but meant to have hit an even better one. So it proved, the ball coming to rest only 12 feet from the hole with Bob on the front edge. Bob didn’t make the long birdie try, Graham took the 2 putts available to win the match. As that game was finishing, Tony Allsopp (Tiverton) appeared having defeated Nick Morris 3-2 making it 6 Singles' wins for DevonGolf and the overall match win secured.

Armitage couldn’t find a singles win to go with his morning victory, losing to the vastly experienced Rob Stephens, but Waddington recorded a strong 3-2 win in the final match over Bill Higgins to give Devon an on-paper healthy margin of victory by 10½ points to 4½. Closer examination of the score sheet shows that of the 10 games which went to the final hole, Devon generated 7½ points but the result could so very easily have gone the other way.

This excellent performance keeps Devon in the hunt for League title, with 3 wins from 5 games. Gwent have 3 wins from 4 games but play Gloucestershire at Brickhampton in late September and still have to finish their game with Wiltshire which was weather interrupted with Wiltshire leading after the morning Foursomes. Cornwall have 3 wins from 4 games and go to bottom side Wiltshire next week. In what could be a League-decider, Cornwall entertain Devon at Perranporth on 23rd September.

“Goal difference” may well be decisive. Cornwall are currently +12, after today, Devon are now +15½ and Gloucester +4½. Gwent are +11. This clearly could go any way.

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