The 2012 South West Counties Championship (SW Week) is being held in Wiltshire at Cumberwell Park GC and gets under way on the Saturday with a practice round for all six counties. The Captain Giles Legg has selected the following squad to represent Dorset over the next six days: Tom Peacock Parkstone, Tom Leech, Harry Mitchell, Sonny Wilkinson, Fraser Dawson Ferndown, Jon Welch, Robbie Mabb, Tom Robson Weymouth and Daniel Bishop, Christchurch.
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 being played over 36 holes of Stroke Play on 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.
Day one saw us up against the team we seem never to be able to beat Somerset and once more after a poor start in the singles it may still be the case. That said it was a good day for Weymouth’s Tom Robson marking his debut with a fine win over Matt Lea, it was the only win in a morning that saw some hard work give no return. Sonny led the way and played some fine golf against Ellis Cook only to miss the green with his second at the last to lose one down. Robbie played Jamie Clare and was well down at the half way mark a fine drive on the next led to a mini reveal but to no avail going down 5&4. Dan bishop and Tom Peacock both lost but Jon welch fought hard against Matt Pearson and a fine birdie on the last secured a good half point for both him and the team. Captain Giles Legg struggled against Sam Day losing out 4&3 and the last man Harry Mitchell had a real good tussle against Phil White again losing on the last one down. The foursomes saw Tom Peacock and Robson lead the way and they didn’t disappoint with some fine golf securing the first points in an afternoon where we needed to win them all. Sadly it wasn’t to be as the out of sorts Dan Bishop teamed up with Jon Welch losing heavily 6&5 to Gregory & Pearson. Fraser Dawson making his SW Debut was out with Sonny and after the fourteenth were 3 down but they rallied a fine birdie two on sixteen got it back to one and when Fraser rammed the ball home on the last for a birdie it secured a fine come back and a halved match. The final pair of Giles and Harry had a great tussle with Jamie Clare & Phil White a stunning shot into the fifteenth by Jamie saw them take the lead 1 up and when we found d the water off the next tee it was only a matter of time before Somerset pair ran out a 2&1 victory.
Not a good day but the spirits are high as we go into the next match against Gloucestershire let’s hope our fortunes change and we get some rub of the green!
Day two with the rain pouring down saw the captain mix the order for the singles and Dan Bishop led the way against Nick Day this was an inspired change after a disappointing first day for Dan who sorted things out to take a good 4&3 win. Sonny was down to second and again had a hard tussle against Tom Workman and with a great finish secured a half on the last. Sadly a middle order collapse put us back as first Harry going down 3&2 followed by Fraser 4&3. Tom Robson played very well but failed to convert the putts when needed and lost 2&1. Jon Welch battled hard but a slip on the seventeenth meant going down by two. Robbie is still finding it tough going and continued with another loss 3&2. A ray of light at the end with Tom Peacock spurred into action and getting back on the winning track after yesterday’s fine foursomes win, he beat Dave Lake 2&1. So again we have an uphill battle in the afternoon foursomes and must win them all to take the match. The rain is still pouring! Giles and Harry led the way against Nick Day & Thomas Workman the Dorset pair found it tough going and lost on the fifteenth 5&4, meaning we now had to win the rest for a halve. Tom Leech was paired with Jon Welch and this was Tom’s first outing of the Championship and they proved to be a good pairing as they beat their opponents 3&2. Todays in form player Dan was with the out of form Robbie but this was an inspired pairing as they took no prisoners beating Jacob Phillips & Charlie Mclean 6&5 so it was all down to the last match which saw yesterday’s winning pair Tom & Tom up against Andy Rudge & David Wood this was a tight even match, the Gloucester pair just got their noses ahead at the fifteenth by one and managed to keep that all the way through securing a win for Gloucester. This was a fine turn round from the the boys who nearly forced a draw after the disappointing morning.
Wiltshire were again to strong for the other 5 Counties and some 25 shots ahead of second placed Devon and Somerset, we wish them every sucess in their defence of the English Crown. A great day for the Dorset Captain who came equal fifth on 3 under par, sadly he had not put himself in the team. Harry Mitchell came thirteenth on 1 under par and with a splendid 3 under second round Tom Robson was our next best positioned player.
Day four saw us against our old adversaries Cornwall and with neither County yet to win the stakes were high. Jon welch got us under way and was in inspired form against Nash of Cornwall and ran out a 4&3 win. Second out Tom Robson found it tough going against the very seasoned campaigner Ben Westgate who never really gave anything away and a couple of slips by Tom meant going down 4&2 Harry Mitchell was hot and was seeing the hole as big as a bucket he cruised to a six hole lead and wrapped it up on the thirteenth 6&5. Both sonny and Giles lost along with the out of sorts Robbie Mabb. Dan Bishop had an early lunch losing heavily 7&6 to yesterday’s Colts champion Tom Fox. Tom Leech was out last and struggled going down 3&2 so once more we have a mountain to climb in the afternoon foursomes.
Tom and Tom led the way and this was a nip and tuck battle which went all the way and finished all square. Giles and Harry were next and this again was very close but Cornwall just had the edge going up the last and held on to win one up. Sonny and Fraser were next and in the early holes were playing from places they had not seen before and by the twelve were 5 down but from now on in they played some stunning golf and worked their way back into the game and with a stunning second into the seventeenth by Fraser they were back level, and with both pairs parring the last it was a very good halved game for the young Dorset pair and an incredible fight back. Jon and Tom found it tough going today after their fine win on Monday and lost 3 &1 so the win went to Cornwall and we are looking for our first points as we take on Devon tomorrow.
Day five and Devon, first out was Jon against the England’s Jimmy Mullen this was a tight match and Jon putted very well until a three putt on the last cost him the game one down. Harry continued his good form seeing off the long hitting Ryan Fricker 2&1. Dan found it tough against Ryan Pope who I believe had some nine birdies to take the game 4&3, sonny went down 2&1 and the battle of the Captains went all the way sadly with Giles coming out on the wrong side one down. Tom peacock at last found some form and beat his opponent 3&2. Tom Leech had a very good win 4&3 and Tom Robson ground out a good halve against Leon Fricker so it was pretty tight after the single for the first time this week. Sonny and Fraser got us under way but never got into the groove like they finished yesterday going down 2&1. Tom and Jon were up against two of Devon’s young guns Ryan and Harrison who seemed to be in control and ran out a sound 3&2 win even with a little dispute so as to ensure the match went to Devon. Giles and Harry again went all the way and yet again for the Captain it was the wrong result going down by one. Tom, Tom our “Sat Nav pairing” brought home the only points of a disappointing afternoon winning 4&3. So we face Wiltshire tomorrow without a win, spirits remain high and with the opponents losing some players to the British let’s hope we can raise our game to bring home one win.
Full result sheet
Day six and we are up against the English County Champions and without a win all week it was going to be a tough day, credit to all the players whose spirits were still high. Harry Mitchell led the way against Ali James who took the lead early on and never really lost it, credit to harry who never gave up and took him down the eighteenth losing 1 down. Giles went next and again this was a very tight match going all the way but the result went to our opponents. Robbie Mabb next and yet once more a match that went right down to the last and yet again going against us with Robbie losing 1 down, incredible 3matches and three loses that could have gone either way. Fraser was up against Tom Burley and he battled hard but never really got the chances he needed losing 2&1. So next was Dan Bishop who has yet to have a tight match either losing or winning big and thankfully today was winning big defeating Peter Bicknell 5&4 Jon welch secured a halve against Kevin Philips and the last two matches also went down to the last but with fortune and results favouring us, first Sonny held his nerve having been dormey to secure the win on the last and finally Tom Leech closed out a last hole win against young Ben Amor so there was just one point separating the teams as we went into the afternoon foursomes. By half way it looked like the foursomes points would be shared Robbie and Dan were well down and finally lost 5&4. Sonny had a new partner in Tom Robson and they seemed to gel well and always seemed in control so when dormey they then lost a hole to the seasoned campaigners Thomas Burley & Kevin Phillips it was pleasing to see they held their nerve and closed out the match on the seventeenth 2&1. The last match also saw our pairing of Tom Leech and Jon Welch comfortably in control of Peter Bicknell & Dave Bauer and they went on to win 4&2. Captain Giles Legg and harry were up against Alistair James & Ben Amor who seemed well in control of the game and when an out of sorts Giles dumped it in the water at seven to go three down it seemed we were doomed to go home empty handed. Credit to Giles who dug deep into the reserves to pull his game back and with harry they made inroads into the deficit and got it back to one down after the thirteenth and level after the next. Harry then missed the green on the short fifteenth and buried the ball in the sand which was still there after the next shot, harry then played a great bunker shot and when their opponents let them off by missing a relatively small par putt Giles sunk his for the halve. So to seventeen and Harry put the ball on the Green and when they then hit the tree all looked well until Ali put the third to some two and a half foot from the hole, Giles putted well leaving a little up hiller for par and when ben missed his and harry sunk the putt for par we knew the turn round in this game was done and we had won the match, credit to our players who went on to win the next with a superb give me birdie to take a 2 hole victory and the team an overall win 8 – 6. So at the death we again mange to gain a valuable morale boosting win ensuring the young lads were not white washed. All credit to the players who battled hard and must now go on to learn from this experience and become stronger for the coming years at SW week and the SE league.
A new look Dorset team went to Cumberwell Park in Wiltshire for South West Week. Sonny Wilkinson and Harry Mitchell, who were debutants last year, returned as County Champion and County Championship Strokeplay Champion. They were joined in the team by the promising Tom Robson from Weymouth and Fraser Dawson, a Junior, from Ferndown. Adding to them the already experienced but still young Jon Welch, Dan Bishop and Robbie Mabb meant the average age of the Team had decreased dramatically. This has to be good for the future of Dorset Golf. The Team was completed with the experienced Tom Leech, Tom Peacock and Giles Legg bringing over 35 South West Weeks knowledge between them to pass on to the youngsters. Unfortunately the Team would be without the playing services of the Vice Captain, David Cook, who had not quite recovered from wrist surgery. His undoubted quality surely would have improved our results.
Our week started with a 9–3 loss to the eventual winners of the Matchplay Shield, Somerset. Their quality and strength in depth is what we must aspire to for future South West Weeks. Three more losses to Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Devon followed before our solitary win over the reigning English County Champions, Wiltshire, in a dramatic afternoon foursomes comeback. The County Secretary, Ian Hulse, has provided the County Website with daily match reports from Cumberwell Park which are still available to view online.
Tuesday was the Strokeplay qualifier for the English County Finals. Dorset has come last in this six man team event the last few years so we were hoping for better this year. The players selected were Sonny Wilkinson, Tom Leech, Tom Peacock, Dan Bishop, Harry Mitchell and Tom Robson. The remainder of the squad, me included, were challenged to beat the chosen six. The wind changed direction that morning which presented a totally different challenge to the two previous day’s golf. Harry Mitchell was our best performer in the six with a one under par total of 141 for 13th place and Tom Robson had an excellent 68 in the afternoon for 143 and 20th place. Surprisingly, our two most experienced players, Tom Leech and Tom Peacock struggled with the course and conditions. This meant that again Dorset was placed last in the Strokeplay. Even if I had chosen our ‘perfect 6’, substituting Leech and Peacock (+27) for Legg and Welch (-1), we would have still finished a massive 18 strokes behind Wiltshire whose team finished an impressive 9 under Par. This shows the gulf in class that we have to make up over the next few years, with Wiltshire currently having three International players in their ranks.
All the Player’s commitment and heart could not be faulted and the team spirit, despite the losses, remained excellent. It would have been easy for the Team to become disenchanted but they remained positive and upbeat and received their just rewards at the end of the week with the win against Wiltshire. Let us hope that some confidence can be taken from this into the remaining South East League matches this year. Another positive is that Harry Mitchell was selected for the South West Team to play against the Midlands later this year. We wish him and the rest of the Team the best of luck in this tough fixture.
Giles Legg Captain