Devon opened their Channel League season against Somerset at the Warren on a beautiful, if rather chilly, Spring day.

L-R Back- Tom Woodhouse (Captain), Chris McGill, Matt Lyne, Ben Sclater, Eliot Baker, Jack Jeffery
Front- Pete Lawrence, Jay Scott, Ollie Tanton, Lewis Beer

With temperatures creeping just above zero, Tiverton pair Eliot Baker and Jay Scott got the match and the season underway. With the course playing hard and fast, Eliot and Jay played error free golf and showed great short game touch to keep the momentum of the top match in their favour. A great up and down on 14 after dropping from the hazard and then a tee shot greenside on 15 saw Devon press on their early lead and win the match 3&2.

Match 2 saw Exeter’s Lewis Beer and Jack Jeffery take on a blend of experience and youth in the form of evergreen Phil White and debutant Freddie Turnell. A quick start from Somerset gave them holes in hand as the match turned for home on 14. The Exeter boys were finding their range, but ran out of holes to fall 2&1.

Warren member Chris McGill reprised his partnership with experienced Ollie Tanton from Royal North Devon. A match that remained close throughout with holes regularly exchanged on what was proving to be an exacting matchplay exam.

As is often the case, these tight matches can come down to clutch moments on the final greens. This one went in Somerset’s favour as Tanton’s short putt to halve the match slid by on 18.

Part of the Warren woodwork, Ben Sclater paired with Stover’s Matt Lyne against hugely experienced Craig Adams and the returning Tom Small. Another match that exchanged holes regularly and that Devon never had control of. Some indifferent driving and excellent short game characterised this match and as it came down the stretch and all the way to 18, it was Sclater who had 18 feet to a wicked hole location to steal a half. The putt was buried and the roar heard in Exmouth showed the relief and potential importance of this half point.

In the final foursome Peter Lawrence was looking to extend his remarkable winning streak, having remained unbeaten throughout last year’s campaign. He paired with East Devon’s Leigh Jones and Devon were down early but were winning holes back as they headed for home and the Warren’s excellent finishing stretch. A time for calm heads and Lawrence kept his partner focused on the task at hand, one down with one to play. A tee shot in play added some pressure and the Somerset tee shot on 18 stalled on the cold wind and leaked out of bounds. A Devon win on 18 halved this match and left the lunchtime scores Somerset 3 Devon 2.

Buoyed by this late comeback, Eiiot Baker, returning to Devon following a recent runaway English Universities Championship win, led Devon out in the singles. Eliot was up early and showed great control in all areas of his game and closed his match out on 13 with a 6&5 win.

Lewis Beer played equally confident golf with his own ball in match 2 and retained his slim lead through the middle third before settling the tie on 17 for a 2&1 win.

Chris McGill played Phil White in match 3 in a tie that would be guaranteed good golf. Giving White any holes advantage will be a struggle to claw back. Chris worked hard for 18 holes but came up short and a 2 down loss.

Jay Scott was giving up some yardage to big hitting Ollie Brimfield but was managing his game well all day. Some great ball striking and confident putting maintained Jay’s lead in this tie and he was another to finish on 17 and 2&1 win.

Exeter’s Jack Jeffery started the back 9 with a slender lead and navigated the tricky stretch in the freshening and icy cold wind.  Great control of his long clubs and an assured touch on the greens saw Jack win against Small 3&2.

Ollie Tanton ran into a brick wall in the experienced Andrew Isaacs. Strong ball striking and some fine work on the greens saw the Somerset man run away with a quick lead. Too much to claw back and an early Somerset win.

Match 7 was one of the standout match ups with Pete Lawrence facing Craig Adams. Holes would be won with birdies and Adams had a run around the turn that gave him a lead he would not relinquish. Somerset win 6 &5.

This left the match scores tied with 3 matches still on the course. Mercifully the wind was dropping and players and spectators gathered to watch a tense finale.

Ben Sclater was down early to young Freddie Turnell. Sclater drew on all his experience to apply pressure down the final holes and whittle Somerset’s lead to a single hole playing 18. Sclater wedged to 15 foot on 18 but could not repeat the heroics from the morning and Turnell debuted with two fine wins.

Matt Lyne retained a slender lead for most of a very competitive game. A sandy waste lie on 15 was no concern for Matt who wedged in to 20 foot and then holed to double his lead to 2 with 3 to play. A Somerset win on 17 sent this one down the unpredictable last hole. Lyne dialled in a stunning wedge to 2 foot in front of his team mates which looked like it might be the match. To his opponent’s credit a good approach and a better putt made Matt have to hole his 2 footer, which he calmly converted.

Meanwhile Jones, in the anchor match was involved in a tussle with Luke Appleton. Jones was in pole position to take a 1 up lead on 15 with his opponent in the estuary off the tee. A fine birdie with his second ball kept things all square with 3 to play. With Lyne’s match playing out on 18, solid pars on 16 and 17 saw Jones walk onto the 18 tee 1 up.  A half on the hole would be enough for a fine comeback win. Jones safely placed his ball in the fairway and his opponent leaked his drive down the unforgiving right boundary. It flew out of bounds and Jones knew what was required to close things out. For the second time in 4 holes, Appleton birdied with his second ball but Jones closed out his victory to secure the result, Devon 8 Somerset 7.

A full breakdown of scores can be found by clicking here

Thanks to President Geoff Green and Past President Richard Pascoe for their support throughout the day.

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