Monday, September 26, 2011


A dream came true for the golfers and supporters of Wiltshire as the West Countrymen turned the tables to win the English men's county championship for the first time by beating Surrey 6-3 on a dramatic final afternoon at Ganton.
Having come close three times in the past four years, especially two years ago when they were pipped in the final game, Wiltshire put those disappointments behind them with a thrilling singles series in which they won five of the six games.
It was an emotional Wiltshire captain Kevin Phillips who said: “I’m over the moon. The boys did so well this afternoon. We’ve come so close in recent years, we’ve been getting closer and closer and now we’ve done it. It’s fantastic.
"The key this morning was Ben Loughrey’s putt on the 16th to get us a win in the foursomes. It kept us in it but I told the lads at lunch to just go out and do what you’ve been doing all week and they did.
“We’ve had 85 years of Wiltshire golf and we’ve made history today. I’m also so pleased for Ben Loughrey because two years ago when we were on the brink of winning his approach to the 18th went out of bounds. It’s just unbelievable.”
Surrey coach Hugh Marr was disappointed but declared: “We were outplayed this afternoon. When Wiltshire had to do something they did it. When we were in that position we didn’t.”
Having lost the foursomes 1-2 and just survived a whitewash thanks to Ben Loughrey and Tom Burley, Wiltshire still had a hill to climb in the singles but they handled it so well. Not only did they have to beat Surrey but they had to do so by one-and-a-half points, which they did.
Only Ali James was on the wrong end of a scoreline in the top game when he went down 5 and 3 to Walker Cup man Stiggy Hodgson. Otherwise it was Wiltshire all the way.
Perhaps the spirit within the Wiltshire team and their determination to put right what went wrong in previous years, was summed up when Ben Stow holed a birdie putt from 25 feet across the 18th green to beat Ben Rickett by 2 holes.
That result followed Josh Loughrey’s 3 and 2 win over Max Williams. That left the Southwest champions on the brink and Tom Burley and Ben Loughrey saw them home both by 2 and 1 over Warren Harmston and Josh White respectively.
The joy within the Wiltshire camp was unconfined and who could blame them after coming so close in previous years?
Defending champions Lancashire finished third after beating Warwickshire 5-4. Again the foursomes finished 2-1, this time to the northern region champions, but the singles was very much a nip-and-tuck affair.
Warwickshire won the top two games through Jamie Carney and Rob Browning but Paul Howard and Richard Blundell replied in their games to keep Lancashire a point ahead. The final two games both came to the 18th hole with each team in pole position. But that advantage was lost and each finished all square, leaving Lancashire claiming a narrow success and third place overall.
Results and more information about the Men's County Finals can be found on the Championship section of the EGU website



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