It was another case of so near yet so far for DevonGolf Seniors in the Final of the Southern Counties Foursomes, this year staged on home territory at Exeter Golf and Country Club. Having won the south-west qualifier at Weston-Super-Mare in June Devon faced familiar opposition at Exeter. Holders of this title and County Champions Sussex had again won their qualifier and were also joined by Hertfordshire who had come through their group for a second consecutive year. The “new boys” were Midland East League and Anglian League champions Cambridgeshire who had won through the East Anglian group. In the complex format each side play 10 matches across the two sessions in the Finals. There will be 3 games against two opposing counties, 4 against one other, all decided by a random draw. Devon would face 4 games against Herts over the day. However, the day started with two games against the defending champions. Tim Aggett (Warren) and Colin Papworth (Teignmouth) looked in control of their game with Martin Galway (Brighton & Hove) and John Daly (Royal Ashdown) but Galway holed from off the green at the 15th and Daly sank lengthy birdie putts at each of the final two greens to turn a very high quality match the Sussex way. Conversely, looking in trouble against Mark Logan (Copthorne) and Martin King (Seaford) Peter Bicknell (Torquay) and Paul Vicary (Saunton) got a well-deserved half as the Sussex pair went swimming at 18. Devon’s three other pairs all won, all having started from the 8th in the 2-tee start morning session. Richard Ward (Dainton Park) and Tony Allsopp (Tiverton) saw off Herts Kevin Ratcliffe and Kelvin Archer (both Berkhamstead), a solid par securing a 2-up victory. Phil Lyons (Churston) and Mark Haskell (Teignmouth) started what would be a really strong day with a big win over another Herts pair, Bob Peacock (S Herts) and Simon Kay (Ashridge), whilst 5th pair Dave Eva (Thurlestone) and Barrie Keith (Warren) were equally strong in defeating Graham Goodman (Saffron Walden, a transported former Devonian) and John Yuill (Newmarket) from Cambridgeshire 2/1. At lunch it was all about the top two, Sussex having accumulated 4.5 points and Devon 3.5, with Herts on 2 and Cambridgeshire having suffered a wretched morning without a point to their total. In the afternoon session Devon’s top two both faced Herts pairs. The Aggett/Papworth duo continued where they had left off in the morning and were 3-under par for the 15 holes necessary to defeat Mike Ready (Old Fold Manor) and Ian Foster (Bishop’s Stortford). Behind them Bicknell and Vicary found the going tough against former international Tyrone Carter (Stevenage) and his partner Gordon Stewart (Berkhamstead), succumbing at the 17th. Things were getting interesting as the Cambs team came alive, and although Galway and Daly inflicted a crushing defeat on their top pair to start the afternoon, David Hayns (Gog Magog) and Terry Ryan (Ely City) beat the Logan/King pairing at the last while Steve Plumb (Saffron Walden) and Ian Robinson (Brampton Park) beat the Devon duo of Ward and Allsopp at the last as the Devonians took a long-range 3 from the edge. Lyons and Haskell were far too strong for Cambs 4th pair of Bill Rusted (Gog Magog) and Robert Setchell (Ely City), winning 5/3 to complete a brilliant day. It felt as though the last game might be a decider, with Eva and Keith matched up against the previously for County undefeated Malcolm Cawte (Selsey) and David Blundell (Nevill). The Devonians were 3 up at the turn but had to hold off a fight back from the Sussex pair to win at the last. It was not to be for Devon despite this great win. The Herts boys suffered a tough afternoon, the Carter/Stewart victory the only point they garnered in the second session, crucially for Devon’s hopes losing both matches that pitched them against Sussex in the second session as well as the one morning clash between the two counties. At the end of the day Sussex retained their title accumulating a brilliant 7.5 points from their 10 matches on the day. As last year at Ealing that was 1 point more than Devon had, this year the county finishing with 6.5. The excellent afternoon performance from Cambridge pushed them up to tie with Herts as both had 3 wins. It was yet another runners-up spot for Devon in this excellent event which sees them taking on some of the big names in the South-East Group. The squad will go again in 2020 with a qualifier at a Gloucestershire venue yet to be announced, looking to make it to the Final at Brockenhurst Manor in Hampshire.

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