Devon returned to Channel League action, crossing the border to play Glamorgan, the reigning Channel League champions, at Cardiff Golf Club.
Torquay’s Craig Passmore, recently returned from college in Phoenix, led Devon off in the foursomes partnered by Jay Scott from Tiverton. A high-quality match was guaranteed as they battled with two current Welsh internationals. The match remained tight and the Devon pair levelled the tie on 15 before entering the pivotal last 3 holes which, as predicted, would offer some matchplay drama over the day. Devon missed an opportunity to take the lead on 16 but the wicked pin location made par an elusive figure for both pairings. Solid pars on 17 took this match to 18, another short par 3 and an equally tricky pin position. Scott wedged to 12-foot, leaving Craig a breaking down-hiller to take the tie. It slipped past low side for a fair half in a high quality match.
Match 2 saw an all Exeter pairing of Jack Jeffery and debutant Peter Howell take on an experienced Glamorgan pairing that, once again, featured current international players. Birdies, and lots of them, featured in this match with holes won and halved with sub-par figures. Glamorgan ran out strong winners in this tie, navigating the undulating parkland with great control.
Match 3 remained a tight affair for the full 18 holes. It was a halved match in the end for experienced Chris McGill who was partnered by decorated former pro Andy Norman from Saunton. It was another high quality tie with excellent shot making and gritty match play on show. It was fitting that it came down to a 12-footer on the last green for Norman. Andy calmly slotted in, in front of a healthy local gallery, to secure the deserved half.
Match 4 featured the last of the debutant trio with Neil James from Royal North Devon paired with Ollie Tanton from the same club. Although down early to a power hitting Welsh duo, the RND boys stuck to their task, halving holes they looked in danger of losing - before a run of back 9 birdies gave them a commanding lead of which they would not let go. They took care of business on 15, missing out the unpredictable last 3 holes.
The anchor match paired Matt Lyne from Stover with Exeter’s Fred Bishop. The big hitting Devon pair struggled to find a hold in this match, but sparked to life with a birdie run around the tight 7 and 8th holes. Consistent golf on the par 5’s 10 and 11 kept a slender lead that they would add to before coming to the tricky finish. A half on 16 and a win on 17 closed out this match and Devon were leading 3-2 at lunch.
Devon knew Glamorgan would come out very strongly in the afternoon. There was an exciting atmosphere at Cardiff Golf Club as the home side needed to overcome an unexpected lunchtime deficit. Once again Passmore led Devon off, up against the experienced Kieran Harmon. This match remained tight through the front 9 before Craig found another gear on the attractive back 9 holes. Taking some aggressive lines, Craig overpowered holes to make winning birdies and close his match 3&2.
Tiverton’s Jay Scott played Nick James in match 2. An early Glamorgan lead was proving difficult to erode. A good birdie 2 on the tough par 3 12th gave Jay a chance of getting something from this game, but James calmly saw this one out with a par on 16 and a 3&2 win.
In form Jack Jeffery knew he was in for a tough afternoon against former professional Craig Melding. It was a high quality match from the outset which looked as though it might go the distance, and it did. Melding’s assured touch on the greens saw him retain a 1-hole lead onto the tricky 18th. There were no mistakes from the Welshman and the 2-holes win firmly moved momentum towards the home side.
Bucking this trend was Exeter’s Peter Howell in match 4, up early and playing very controlled golf around the narrow front 9. Aware of the importance of his game, he matched his big hitting opponent to find the 15th fairway. His wedge to 15-foot gave him a putt to win the match. This effort came up millimetres short which meant tackling the testing par 3, 16th. Howell finished short of the green and was unable to convert his heavily breaking par putt. No such mistakes on 17 however, a wedge to 10-foot was calmly converted for an impressive birdie and debut singles win.
McGill and Norman filled the Devon middle order. Steady starts for the Devon men gave way to a run of under par golf from the experienced former Welsh champion Luke Thomas playing McGIll, and current international Tim Harry playing Norman. McGill turned 2-down before losing 10 to an unlikely birdie, then 11 due to a wrong ball played from the long rough. It was too much to turn around giving another Glamorgan win. Norman was playing his ever-consistent brand but was witnessing an exhibition of power golf from Tim Harry. 5 under at the turn became -7 after 12 and a handshake with Norman.
Neil James is getting familiar with top quality matchplay golf following his recent run to the Devon Amateur final. He was up against Richard Hooper making his 100th appearance for Glamorgan in the Channel League. James was happy to play party pooper and rushed to a 3-up early lead. A clutch up and down on 6 won Hooper a hole he looked like losing and he took that momentum to turn his match around. Still tight entering the back 9, some strong hitting and no mistakes from Hooper saw him close out another tie on 15.
Tanton was having a very tight match with another experienced Glamorgan veteran, Ian Flower. Tanton rarely trailed but was also unable to lead by more than a hole. It was all square on 17 and both men leaked tee balls to the right. Tanton laid up but the firm green didn’t receive his accurate pitch that ran to the back of the green. A routine up and down from Flower gave him a dormie lead on 18, a hole he would par and take the match 1-up.
Matches 9 and 10 were ties that favoured Glamorgan early on and Devon’s Bishop and Lyne struggled to dent the early leads. As the news of the overall result filtered onto the golf course, both matches were closed out 4&3 for 2 more solid Glamorgan wins.
It was a significant afternoon turnaround from an experienced Glamorgan side. Devon can take much encouragement from a good team performance in the morning. DevonGolf hanks Cardiff Golf Club and all at Glamorgan Golf for providing such an excellent venue and, as always, it was a match played in excellent spirit.
All match results click here