A case of might have beens for the U16’s at County Finals

A case of might have beens for the U16’s at County Finals




Report from Boys U16 Manager Gerald Duddy; 

Having successfully qualified for the SE Group Finals with comprehensive victories throughout the year over Norfolk and Suffolk, the 8-man team travelled to Eaton Golf Club near Norwich for the finals weekend. We travelled up on Saturday and following a briefing by lead coach Matt Spencer on shot dispersal for each hole and discussion about how we might tackle them, we ventured out to put the theory into practice in a practice round. Once the team saw the test that was in front of them for themselves, plans were made for how we would tackle the interesting challenge that Eaton GC posed the following day. After a team meal at the near by hotel, everyone adjourned to their rooms ahead of the big day!

As the following day started, the sun high in the sky but there with a cold swirling wind and the threat of the occasional shower we headed back to the club to face the challenge of local rivals Essex who had qualified from the SE Central group and Surrey who have qualified from the Southern Group and like us, hadn’t been beaten in the group stages. Something had to give. Surrey, although missing some experienced players and England internationals fielded a team of players all of whom had plus handicaps. Essex had 8 players of scratch or better, similar to ourselves so it was all to play for.

Undeterred, match one Finlay Rennie led the charge against current England international Monty Holcombe and you up and coming Charlie Rusbridge of Essex who was runner up at the Reid Trophy earlier in the year. Despite going behind early, Finlay persevered and managed to take his match against Essex to the 16th green, eventually losing by 3&2 and he took Surrey all the way to the last hole but lost 2 down.  Next out was current Boys Champion Harry Cox who had recently represented Hertfordshire at the Champion of Champions event at Woodhall Spa. Harry had a tough day on the course and was taken to the final hole by both his opponents, eventually edging out Essex by 1 hole and securing a half against Surrey.

In matches 3 and 4, Noah Peters and Patrick Donovan, both making their final appearances for the u16s having been stalwarts in the teams over the last few years encountered difficulties in trying to over come their opponents. Noah was ahead early in both matches thanks to some excellent approach play including a towering 4 iron to 4 feet on the 190 yard par three 7th that was playing into a stiff breeze. However, he was pegged back in both games around the back 9 and eventually lost to Surrey 1 down and got a half against Essex. Patrick found himself behind early and despite mounting a comeback he from 3 down against Surrey to get back to all square finally lost both games 2&1.

Likewise, Castor Morris, who was also making his final appearance at the level, had a convincing 4&2 victory over Essex but found himself in a ding dong tussle with his opponent from Surrey and there was never any more than 1 hole in it until the end. Castor was one down standing on the 16th fairway having had to chip out sideways. The long iron shot that followed next had those watching in awe as his ball found its way to the heart of the green some 265yds away! His opponent duly stunned then preceded to hit a tree and was some 40 feet away in 3 himself. When his opponent rolled his first putt up to around 4 feet Castor, who had practiced the same putt the day before calmly rolled it in for an unlikely birdie. Alas, despite battling back to all square his opponent hit back with wins on the 17th and long 18th hole to eventually win 2 up.

Ben Sessions had a relatively straightforward win against his opponent from Essex winning by a margin of 4&3. Ben then had the comeback of the day against his more experienced opponent from Surrey. Standing on the 14th tee, having once been 3 down, Ben had managed to get back to only 2 down. Despite an excellent approach shot to the green, Ben failed to capitalise and walked off disappointed to the 15th tee. It was not a disappointment that was going to last long as he then won 3 of the remaining 4 holes to turn his match around and win by 1 hole when his opponent could only match his par on the 459 par 4 finishing hole. Oscar Freeman found the going tougher and suffered two defeats to players who share 8 birdies between them including both birdieing the par 3 13th when they hit within 8ft. Oscar eventually lost 4&3 to his Surrey opponent who had been up most of the night with suspected food poisoning. Beware the wounded golfer!  He also lost 4&2 to Essex.

The last match out was Hanbury Manor’s Harrison Preston, who despite not having the best of practice rounds, suddenly found the course to his liking and raced into early 2 up leads through 7 holes against his opponents. Further holes were exchanged and when he had rounded out his match against Surrey 4&2, such are the vagrancies of triangular match play he found himself all square against his opponent from Essex! Playing the last, with all competitors, parents, club members and officials watching on, and with neither knowing the overall standings, neither player reached the green in 3 with Harrison on the apron after a tremendous, long iron approach just moments after his 2nd had hit a near by tree. What resilience! When his opponents 4 went long and he chipped back to around 8ft, Harrison had a down hill 3ft putt to win his match which he duly holed to win the match and to give Hertfordshire a narrow 4.5-3.5 victory over Essex. This meant we would eventually finish as runners up to Surrey who completed two 5.5-2.5 victories over Essex and ourselves to be the overall winners.

Despite the obvious disappointment of losing on the day, the boys enjoyed a thoroughly enjoyed the weekend experience. It was a great opportunity for further team bonding and with 5 of the 8 players still eligible for next season along with some exciting up and coming talents coming through the ranks, we are already looking forward to the upcoming Winter Training sessions and the new league campaign. On behalf of myself and the players, I would like to thank the parents for their support at the weekend and throughout the season particularly in transporting the players to the away games in Norfolk and Suffolk and then again to Norfolk for the final. Our thanks also go to U14 manager Graham Oram who attended the final as well as Matt for his guidance and support over the weekend.

Click here to view the full match results vs Surrey 

Click here to view the full match results vs Essex

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