Friday, October 09, 2009

Men of Kent are English senior champions again

Kent are the kings of English seniors' golf again. They regained the title from old rivals Cheshire when they beat them 5½-3½ on the concluding day of the County Finals at Tandridge, while Dorset and Staffordshire tied their match to share third place.
After the morning foursomes had been halved, Kent took command in the singles, winning four of the six games, their internationals proving better than Cheshire’s.
It was a delighted Kent captain Nick Allen who said: “We have always previously come second to Cheshire and it’s about time we came out on top. I am very grateful that they didn’t play as well as us today.
“I am more than delighted for the team. I think we got away with murder in the final foursome which was halved because that half point could have proved crucial. I think the momentum shifted out way at that moment and we kept it going in the afternoon.”
Roger Fielding, the Cheshire skipper for all of their previous title-winning finals, was tasting defeat for the first time but praised Kent’s performance.
“We came to win and enjoyed the competition and I felt we put ourselves in a position to win, but we lost to the better team on the day. We weren’t expecting better than a share of the foursomes and hoped to share the singles, but Kent played better than us and we will hope to be back next year to get the title back.”
Kent got out of jail in the bottom foursomes through Dave Jessup and Roger Salmon who trailed throughout to Phil Slater and Bob Walker but won the 18th to grab that vital half. Although Phil Jones won the top single 4 and 3 over Chris Hurst, the latter sustaining a penalty stroke on the 15th when he admitted standing on his own ball, it was Kent all the way.
Andrew Stracey, Dave Jessup, Sam Smale and English Champion Chris Reynolds all won out in the country while Cheshire’s only other consolation was a 3 and 1 win for Stephen Baker over Howard Moxon.
The battle for third place couldn’t have been closer. Staffordshire edged the foursomes 2-1 but Dorset hit back in the singles and at one stage looked as if they might take the match comfortably.
Although Ben Rhodes struck the first blow for Staffordshire with a 4 and 2 win over John Smith, Dorset were determined to make their mark and Chris Dennis and Brian Medlam both won on the final green. That gave them south west champions momentum and David Lock’s 5nd 4 victory over John Loader put them on the brink of overall success.
Staffordshire drew level when Neil Copestick beat Rob Clapp on the 18th green which meant everything hinged on the final encounter in which David Backhouse generally held sway over Neil Portas, leading from the first.
Backhouse missed the final green when leading by one hole and could do no better than a bogey five while left-hander Portas took two from just off for a winning par than not only squared their game but ensured the match would finish level.
That meant third place would be decided on games won and even then the two counties couldn’t be separated, both finishing with 8½.



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