The 2016 South West Counties Championship (SW Week) is being held in Cornwall at St Enodoc Golf Club. The The Captain Giles Legg has selected the following to represent Dorset: Tom Robson, Andrew Robson, Jon Welch and Robbie Mabb from Weymouth along with Giles Legg (Captain), Tom Leech, Harry Mitchell & Dominic Knight from Ferndown, Andy Rideout from Broadstone along with Tom Plumb from Sherborne. The event gets under way on the Saturday with a practice round for all six counties.
The format of the week is each county plays each other Singles am and Foursomes pm so the order of play is below with the SW Individual Strokeplay Championship and EGU County Qualifier to be played over 36 holes of Stroke Play on the Tuesday. I will endeavour to post the results of each of our matches at the close of play each day to keep you up to date.
So we got under way in this year’s Championship with a tough match against our neighbours Somerset. Open Champion Andy Rideout led the way against Matt Turner and put the first Dorset point on the board, Phil White pulled it level to when he beat Dominic Knight by one. Tom Robson was in no mood to mess about and saw off Tom Sloman 5&3 to put us back in front by one which was soon two with debutant Tom Plumb making a cracking start beating Tom Poole by 2 holes. The skipper lost by two but his vice steadied the ship with a great halve against Jamie Clare. Jon Welch fought hard and if he had not got a flier on the last may have gained a halve but that’s golf. Harry Mitchell was having a great time always seemed to be smiling and in control which saw him home with a two hole win and a 4½ - 3½ morning lead so let’s hope we can continue this in the foursomes.
The foursomes were led out by Andy and Tom and after leading they found themselves 1 down after the seventeenth but a good par on the last was good enough to give them a halve. Dominic Knight and Andrew Robson found it tough going loosing 3&2. The Captain and his vice turned on the style to cruise to a 5&4 victory and with Jon and Robbie at the back and again going up a gear securing a great win 5&3 to secure a great opening win for the team over Somerset. The team are in Great Spirit and were up for this match and fully deserved their win well done and let’s hope we continue tomorrow against Gloucestershire.
The other matches Cornwall v Devon & Gloucestershire v Wiltshire
We were up against Gloucestershire and the players were all up for a good test and hopefully another win. Sadly the results did not go our way Andy Rideout led the way going down 3&1 Andrew Robson fought hard but went down by one on the last. Brother Tom up against Nick Day who won 4&3 After his fine opening win Tom Plumb looked to be cruising to his second, then suddenly he found himself all square going down the last but dug deep to take it and put the first point on the board for Dorset. Robbie Mabb went down as did Tom Leech and Jon Welch after his man sunk a putt from off the green on the seventeenth to win 2&1. That just left Harry Mitchell who looked to be in control at two up but he then lost sixteen and seventeen to go down the last all square and with some poor golf from both players they halved the last in 6 for a halved game and giving the Dorset players a mountain to climb in the afternoon foursomes.
So we needed to win all the foursome matches something ewe have done before and today at the halfway stage it was looking like we could again. Front pairing of Andy and Tom put the first win on the table with Tom getting revenge for the morning defeat when they beat the Gloucestershire pair 3&2 The next to finish were the Captain and Vice with a resounding 8&6 victory so it was two down two to go. Tom and Dominic looked good but by seventeen it was all square and the opponents then one that one to win the match for Gloucestershire. The last match also went Gloucester’s way giving them the win and leaving us pondering!
The other matches Cornwall v Somerset & Devon v Wiltshire
The team playing in the EG Qualifier: Jon Welch Andy Rideout, Tom Robson, Harry Mitchell, Dominic Knight and Tom Plumb.
Sadly Dorset finished sixth but what a great start Tom Plumb is having with a fine two rounds finishing thirteenth. Tom Robson was top man again for Dorset finishing seventh, We send our congratulations to Cornwall who blew the field away to qualify for the County Finals.
So back to the match play and we are up against Wiltshire. Tom Plumb led the way and in a very close match ended his winning run when losing by one hole. Dominic gained his first singles point with a fine 3&1 victory. Andy Rideout is out of sorts and the putts are not dropping he went down 2&1 but Tom Robson had an comfortable match winning 5&3 but brothe Andrew lost 4&2. Tom Leech also lost and things were looking bleak a sparkle of hope was lit when Jon Welch beat Ali James 2&1 but these were soon dashed as Harry walked down the last having lost 3&2. So we need to win three of the foursomes to win the match.
Tom and Andy led the way and they had a tight match which could have gone either way but as it was ended all square. Tom plumb and Dominic Knight two up with two to play then lost seventeen but managed to win on the last when their opponents missed a small putt for the halve, Giles and T lost 2&1 and Jon and Robbie having won the first lost the next five and they were never coming back from that losing 4&3 so another defeat and we now go on to the Devon match and hope we can get the point we need before meeting Cornwall on Friday.
The other matches Cornwall v Gloucestershire & Somerset v Devon
So here we are day 5 up against Devon a tough match on another glorious day. With Devon yet to get off the mark it was a chance to put some light between us and the dreaded wooden spoon. The morning matches were in the main all tight with most going to the wire sadly those that did in the main went our opponent’s way. Andy Rideout had the best win 5&4 with Tom Robson beating Matt Wells 3&1. So once more we have left a mountain to climb in the afternoon which has just got under way so fingers crossed.
Andy and Tom led us out for the afternoon foursome’s and it was an epic struggle finally finishing all square so we had to win the remaining three. Tom and Giles wrapped up their match on the fifteenth 4&3 Tom and Dom left that green having pulled on back to be only 1 down they pulled another back to take it up the last all square but a pulled shot to the green left the ball in deep rough thus letting in their opponents to take the last and with Jon and Harry losing the seventeenth to lose by two. That leaves both Devon and ourselves fighting tomorrow to avoid the spoon we are in fifth on goal difference at the moment.
The other matches Wiltshire v Cornwall & Somerset v Gloucestershire
So to the last day and we need to get something from this match if we are to avoid that dreaded position! We again started well and looked to be doing well but as soon as the last three holes come into view we seem to get on the wrong side of the score line. Tom Robson 1 up on sixteen then missed a smallish putt on the next to go all square which gladly he held onto at the last for a halve. Andy was again out of sorts going down 5&3 but a great win by Dominic 5&4 gave us some hope and then Tom Plumb halved to last to hold on for a one hole win. Sadly that was our last Robbie lost 2 down Tom Leech made a total mess of the last when walking of the tee he looked like he could get a halved game. Giles got thumped losing 8&6 and Harry was looking good but the ever impressive Rob turned it around winning 2&1. So once more we left ourselves a lot to do in the afternoon foursomes and as can be seen in the results sheet the only good was the half point won by Dom and Tom who both have had a good SW Week. The other three games all going to Cornwall and once more leaving us languishing at the bottom on goal difference from Devon.
The other matches Gloucestershire v Devon & Somerset v Wiltshire
The week started really well with a great performance against Somerset who swept the board at last year’s South West Week. After beating Hampshire in the League this was the perfect way to maintain our momentum. We won the morning singles 4.5-3.5 which always makes the afternoon foursomes much easier. Giles Legg and Tom Leech won the first foursomes 5&4, with Jon Welch and Robbie Mabb soon following with a 5&3 win to close out the match. Tom Robson and Andy Rideout halved to ensure we won the afternoon as well as the morning.
After such an impressive first day it was incredibly disappointing to only win one game the next morning against Gloucestershire, although it was pleasing that it came from our 17 year old debutant Tom Plumb. Half a point from Harry Mitchell at the back meant we could still win the match if we won all four foursomes games.
Giles Legg and Tom Leech got off to a fast start and were soon well in control of their game eventually winning 8&6. This enables the Captain and Vice to watch the other three games and spur the players on. The top match was up most of the way round and finished off their game 3&2. The other two games were very close and it looked at one stage that we were going to pull off an amazing fight back. Unfortunately the last few holes were unkind to us and both our pairings finally succumbed. A great effort and admirable spirit was shown by the team, the Gloucestershire camp was very worried for most of the afternoon.
The Strokeplay for the English County Finals came the next day and we were determined to improve on our dismal performance last year. The weather and course were magnificent, just waiting for some low scoring. That duly came from Cornwall, the local team. In fact they completely ran away with the whole day, winning by an incredible margin of 38 shots. Apart from two or three disappointing rounds, Dorset were much more competitive than last year where we trailed the field by 24 shots. This year we were only 16 shots behind second place and 2 behind fifth. This is obviously not where we want to be but nevertheless an improvement.
We lost the opening single 5-3 against Wiltshire, leaving us needing to win 3 of the foursomes in the afternoon. The team only managed one win and a half giving a final score line of 8.75 – 5.25. Not what we were looking for as we felt that with a couple of their best players going home, this was a match we should be winning.
The next day, against Devon was exactly the same score line as the Wiltshire game. It was a close match all day, mainly as any kind of result for Dorset would have consigned Devon to the Wooden Spoon. Unfortunately needing 3 wins in the afternoon foursomes again proved too much.
The hosts, Cornwall, were our last game, and we knew we needed some sort of result to avoid retaining the Wooden Spoon. Again, losing the morning singles 2.5 – 5.5 left us with a mountain to climb. Once more this proved beyond us with Tom Plumb and Dominic Knight getting a half our only positive of the afternoon.
It was very pleasing that the effort and commitment of the Team never waivered throughout the whole week. Everyone gave 100% on every shot, in every game. Analysing some of the results it seems that the 18th hole was not too kind to us. It is a very long and difficult par 4, into the wind most of the week and it seems we struggled to tame it. The Team played the last hole 29 times during the week and we only won 6 and halved 9 games, losing 14. Of course I don’t know the scores going into the last hole for every match, but I’m fairly sure we didn’t par the hole often enough to apply pressure on to our opponents.
My thanks go to my Vice Captain, Tom Leech, our County Coach, Dan Frost, our County Secretary, Ian Hulse, the County President, John White and all the other Officials and supporters that came down to a glorious St Enodoc to support, caddy and encourage the Team through what is a very demanding week.