April 9th 2017 @ Wellingborough Golf Club
The grounds of Harrowden Hall can never have looked better than they did today, a sunny, warm, early April day welcomed the players to Wellingborough.
With weather conditions being perfect and greens rolling well for the time of year, the players had nothing to think about but their golf. As always in this friendly, the day started with 5 foursome matches and Wellingborough member Ryan Connolly teamed up with Taylor Sargeant (Kingsthorpe) for the second weekend running. The pair played very solid golf all morning, without setting the greens alight, to run in winners on the 17th green.
Mikey Chambers (Overstone) and Fraser Carnihan (Cold Ashby) were second out, followed by another Overstone/Cold Ashby pairing of Alan Freeman and Jack Hall. In neither of these matches did much go in Northamptonshire’s favour. Both Mikey and Fraser looking bemused at how they had lost the match – and in similar fashion Jack and Alan fell to an inspired spell of golf from Luke Charalambous in the middle of the back 9, with a chip in followed by two holed 20 plus footers in successive holes leading to a defeat on the 14th green. Mikey and Fraser held on until the 17th but could not turn the match in their favour. So 2-1 down after 3 matches.
In match 4 the Peterborough Milton pairing of James Walters and Mark Phillips were making their 1st team debuts. This match was close the whole way through and the two teams could not be separated after 18 holes. With the Bedfordshire pair made up of the impressive Jack Hawksby and Duncan Steele who stepped in at 7am of the morning of the match!!
At the back of our morning order were the Wellingborough pair of Jon Harris and another debutant Tiger Adams. Jon and Tiger got off to a flyer, birdieing the 1st, 2nd and 5th to be 5 up through 6 holes. Over the course of the next twelve holes this lead was whittled away by the Bedfordshire pair with the match going down the last – fortunately the advantage was maintained, ending with a 1 up victory and meaning the morning matches were tied and 2.5 points each.
The afternoon singles matches started with Ryan Connolly at the top of the order. With another impressive display in the morning, particularly off the tee and with Ryan’s home knowledge it was the obvious choice. However, Ryan’s driver broke very early in the match and in the increasingly windy afternoon, Ryan was at a significant disadvantage for his match – leading to a hard fought and frustrating defeat, with the end coming on the 16th green.
Fraser and Taylor followed Ryan out, in an order which was again a mix of experience and youth. Fraser always appeared to be in control of his match, but we had seen some big turnarounds during the day already! The long game looked in good order and Fraser calmly closed out his match on the 17th green. A tiring and frustrated looking Taylor went all the way to 18, a game in which nothing seemed to work in his favour finished after a closing bogey 5 to lose his match 1 down.
By this point Mikey Chambers had been supporting his team mates quite some time – big wins are rare, 8&7 wins are almost unheard of at this level – a combination of excellent long game and a deft touch around the greens, alongside being handed a couple of holes, Mikey was quick to get out and support his team.
It was also clear at this point that the lower order were in control of a lot of the remaining matches. Alan Freeman was in the middle of a ding dong battle, that would last all the way to the last, giving each other the 17th and 18th holes to share the spoils at the end and the only half of the afternoon. Mark Phillips was in an equally tight match against Bedfordshire Captain Scott Armitage – Scott has been around the county scene for a good while and is a great competitor. Being one down stood on the last tee and striping his iron shot down the fairway, Mark was confident of an opportunity to get a half from the match – until he got to his ball, which had finished against the tree on the right hand side of the fairway, leaving no option to go for the green in two and would wind up losing the hole and the match 2 down.
Tiger was up next and was in control of his match from the start and would shake hands on the 16th tee having barely broken sweat. With two points on the day, Tiger’s debut has been a very good one, well done!!
Again by this time, both James Walters (5&4) and Jon Harris (7&6) had recorded a couple more large victories – Jonno’s second point of the day on his return to the county fold, making full use of home advantage and saving some energy, by shaking hands on the 12th. James, again in his first team debut, looked very accomplished and rarely troubled by ‘Big Red’, another of Bedfordshire’s experienced campaigners.
This left only Jack Hall out on course – when the Captain heard Jack was dormie three up, the point had been chalked up – but we should know by now that you right people off in this game at your peril. Jack’s opponent is another extremely experienced golfer and former professional. However, thanks to a fabulous up and down, from near the bushes on the left of 18, Jack would finally close out his match with a 2 up victory.
After halving the morning foursomes, a convincing afternoons work and 6.5 – 3.5 advantage lead to an overall 9-6 win for Northamptonshire, in a match played in the best of spirits.
A really excellent days golf and some very convincing performances and impressive debuts. The two friendlies have no doubt lead to some headaches for Graham Bott and 2nd Team Captain Tom Burgh, when they come to select their sides for the first league matches on the 7th of May. In total 24 players have played in the three friendlies, the County really does have some strength in depth for the season ahead.