Franklin hole-in-one lights up Hertfordshire campaign

HERTFORDSHIRE Ladies emerged as runners-up to Yorkshire in golf s premier representative event, the National County Finals, held at Long Ashton, Bristol. East Region champions Herts, were pitted against the winners of the country s five other regions: Dor

HERTFORDSHIRE Ladies emerged as runners-up to Yorkshire in golf's premier representative event, the National County Finals, held at Long Ashton, Bristol.

East Region champions Herts, were pitted against the winners of the country's five other regions: Dorset (South West Region), Leicestershire (Midlands North), Sussex (South), Warwickshire (Midlands South) and Yorkshire (North).

The Hertfordshire team comprised of Charlie Douglass (Brocket Hall), Charlie Field (Harpenden), Jackie Foster (Bishop's Stortford), Alison Franklin (Harpenden), Lucy Glyn (Porters Park), Tina Jeary (Bishop's Stortford), Harriet Key (South Herts), Steph McEvoy (Old Fold Manor), Lucinda Mileham (Aldwickbury Park) and current county champion Lucy Williams (Mid Herts).

A delighted team captain, Jaki White, praised the efforts of the entire squad. She said: "Playing morning and afternoon for five consecutive days puts a huge physical and mental pressure on everyone. Every member of the team played their part and I am hugely proud of what they have achieved. We were within just two games of pulling off a remarkable victory against Yorkshire and taking the title."

Hertfordshire beat Warwickshire 6-3 on Monday and then halved a very tight match with Leicestershire at 41/2 points each on Tuesday.

Hertfordshire's third day's match against Yorkshire would prove to be decisive. Yorkshire had won the title for the last four years (and eight times since 1998) and fielded a side crammed full of international players. After the morning foursomes, the teams were tied at 1 1/2-1 1/2. In the afternoon singles Lucy Williams played Naomi Edwards, former English Champion, and went well down quite quickly but she fought her way back to only one down, finally losing on the 17th hole. Charlie Douglass played Emma Brown (née Duggleby), a long-time England International and Curtis Cup player. Again this match could have gone either way but eventually Emma ground it out to win 2&1. Harriet Key then won her match and Tina Jeary pushed ex-England player Sara Garbutt all the way, before going down 2&1. Jackie Foster was another to nearly get there, but the 17th hole again provided a victory for Yorkshire.

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While all these matches were going on, Alison Franklin was quietly getting ahead of her opponent, Nikki Dunn. That is until the par 3 13th hole. There was absolutely nothing quiet about her reaction to her tee shot, which covered the flag all the way, took one bounce and hopped into the hole. Amazingly for a golfer who has achieved so much within the county and nationally, it was her first hole in one.

The day finished in a 51/2-31/2 win for Yorkshire, but could have gone either way. Remarkably, five out of the six singles matches were settled on the 17th green.

Hertfordshire bounced back impressively on day four against Dorset, with the team producing excellent golf to win the foursomes 3-0. The afternoon started badly, with the team possibly suffering a reaction after the exertions of the previous day against Yorkshire. The first two matches were lost, but Herts came back strongly to win 6 1/2-2 1/2 overall.

On the final day, Herts knew they needed a strong performance against Sussex to ensure that they outscored Leicestershire, with whom they were tied in second spot.

The morning started well with Lucy Williams and Charlie Field winning 6&5 and Jackie Foster and Tina Jeary winning 1 up, to give Hertfordshire a 2-1 lead after the foursomes. Alison Franklin made sure that the final session started well by recording a comfortable 7&5 win, quickly followed by wins for Harriet Key and Lucy Williams. Charlie Douglass won after a really tight game, making the overall match score 6-3 in Hertfordshire's favour.

When Warwickshire outplayed Leicestershire in the afternoon to win their match, they ensured that Herts finished National Finals week as runners-up to Yorkshire.

This is the third time that Hertfordshire's ladies have been runners-up in the County championships. On both occasions (2000 and 2001), they were also pipped by Yorkshire.