Historic victory for Herts ladies
IT was golfing history in the making at Newmarket last week, a venue more renowned for its horseracing achievements, when a gallant group of 10 Hertfordshire ladies staged a dazzling display to become the first champions of the newly-created East Region
IT was golfing history in the making at Newmarket last week, a venue more renowned for its horseracing achievements, when a gallant group of 10 Hertfordshire ladies staged a dazzling display to become the first champions of the newly-created East Region of English ladies golf.
Playing five matches against opposing counties to qualify for the finals of the English county championship, the Herts team won them all in fine style and, with the talent, skill and determination displayed, will go into the finals at Little Aston, Bristol, in September full of confidence.
"They were all magnificent, playing against counties they had never met before," said Herts President Ann Green. "It was tough competition over five days, with appalling weather on the Tuesday, but they responded superbly to give us one of the greatest achievements in our history."
Starting on the Monday, they beat Norfolk without losing a match - winning the foursomes 3-0 and five of the six singles, the other being halved - 81/2 to 1/2. "It was just the start we needed," said team captain Jaki White. "The team showed terrific spirit, they all pulled together and dug really deep when needed."
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On Tuesday, they beat Bedfordshire 6-3; on Wednesday, Suffolk 7-2; Thursday, Essex 51/2 to 31/2, and Friday, Cambridgeshire/Huntingdonshire 6-3.
Their clean sweep left Essex runners-up - having beaten Norfolk on the final day - with Suffolk and Bedfordshire each winning twice, but Suffolk taking third place with 21 games against 18, followed by Cambs/Hunts, who won one and halved one, and Norfolk, who halved one.
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After three days, Herts and Essex were level, each with three wins, and the meeting of the two counties on Thursday, it seemed, would decide the outcome, and so it proved. It was the closest contest, with the foursomes shared, 11/2 points each. Lucy Williams and Charlie Field earned a half, Alison Franklin and Harriet Key won 3&2 and Tina Jeary and Jackie Foster went down 3&2.
In singles, Lucy Williams went down 4&3, followed by three Herts wins, Harriet Key 5&4, Alison Franklin by one hole, Tina Jeary 3&2. Charlie Field lost 3&2 and Hannah Burke surged home 7&6 to make sure of a 4-2 singles win and overall 51/2 to 31/2 victory.
Alison had the toughest battle against Laura Cutler, back from US university and a tournament winner. The match was all square playing 16 where Alison's putt lipped out, to be one down, then all square as she won 17 and at 18, a long par 4, she hit a magnificent approach to 5ft for a winning birdie.
With a format of three foursomes and six singles each day, every one of the squad was brought into the team during the week, maintaining the pressure on their opponents.
Harriet Key was top points scorer, playing every day, and missing only one foursome on Tuesday, for an outstanding return of nine points from the nine matches she played. Charlie Field also played nine matches, taking six points.
Former champions Tina Jeary and Alison Franklin were each absent for one day's play due to personal commitments, with Alison claiming seven points from eight matches, and Tina four from five. Current county champion Lucy Williams took 41/2 points from eight matches, and, on her return from university success in Texas, Hannah Burke claimed 41/2 points from the five singles she played, and Jackie Foster won three points from four matches.
The two youngest players, Steph McEvoy, 17, and county junior champion Lucy Glyn, 16, played their part, each claiming four points.
There were some runaway victories as well as some close matches which ended Herts' way. On Monday against Norfolk Tina Jeary and Jackie Foster got home in foursomes by one hole and the next day against Bedfordshire won by the same margin. In the singles against Norfolk, Hannah Burke and Alison Franklin each won by 5&4 and Lucy Glyn by 4&3.
On Tuesday against Bedfordshire Steph McAvoy and Lucy Glyn won their foursome 6&4, while Steph won her singles 7&5 and Charlie Field 5&4. Against Suffolk on Wednesday Alison Franklin and Harriet Key won their foursome by one hole and Lucy Williams and Charlie Field by 3&2, while in singles Harriet won 8&6 and Hannah Burke 8&7.
The clash with Essex on Thursday is detailed above, and on Friday in foursomes against Cambs/Hunts, Alison Franklin and Harriet Key won 4&3, and Lucy Williams and Charlie Field 5&4, while in singles Harriet Key and Tina Jeary each won 4&3, and Alison Franklin and Hannah Burke 2&1.
Drawn against a strong opponent in the singles against Suffolk on Wednesday, Lucinda Mileham failed to count.