Senior service for skipper!
Champions – from left, Dave Sanby, Richard Jones, Andy Woodhead, Richard Norton,
Ian Backhouse, Stephen East, Steve Cain and Ian Clarke
Yorkshire’s ‘golden oldies’ – the Men’s Seniors – held their nerve to deliver new captain Andy King a clean sweep of silverware for 2022. In a nerve-wracking four county championship play-off at Rothley Park in Leicestershire, Yorkshire’s campaign to capture the County Champions title went right down to the final after- noon. On the last day they were up against Kent, with Wiltshire – by far the smallest golfing county of the four regional finalists and on their first showing – hopeful of their southern neighbours doing them a huge favour. In the heat of battle however the Tykes held their nerve and drained the pressure putts to finish top of the pile courtesy of a 5-4 win against Kent, a first day defeat of Wiltshire, plus a halved match with Warwickshire. Wiltshire had cranked up the heat on the white rose county by earlier running out convincing 6-3 winners against Warwickshire. However, Yorkshire had control of their own destiny and duly notched the win that guaranteed them their third title at this level in five years. At the start of play only Warwickshire were no longer in the running and at one stage in the afternoon with Kent and Yorkshire looking to be heading for a draw and Wiltshire homing in on a win, the smallest county in the finals were daring to dream of a fantastic triumph. However, Yorkshire came strong in the final hour of play and topped the table with two wins and a draw from their three matches. With each match comprising three morning foursomes and six afternoon singles, Yorkshire’s unbeaten form over the three days meant they fully deserved the title which follows on from wins in 2017 and 2019. For skipper and Garforth member King, the victory was a blessed relief after days fretting on behalf of his entire squad. He seemed to be mentally hitting every shot from the sidelines. Afterwards he said: “It feels absolutely fantastic. Whoever designed or invented this golf event – big congratu- lations to them! “The players have loved playing in it and we love coming to this stage and competing and we’ll be trying to get here again next year. “I am proud of the players – sometimes you need the tail to wag and the lads at the end of the order did the business for us.” Those lads at the tail coming good were Andy Woodhead, Steve Cain and Dave Sanby. Woodhead was in tears after clinching a 3&2 win against Kent’s Danny Holmes while the smiles on the faces of Sanby (5&4 win against Bob Florence) and Cain (6&4 against Phil Judge) were from ear to ear. Yorkshire took a 2-1 lead into the afternoon singles from the morning foursomes with the pairings of Ian Clarke and Woodhead and Ian Backhouse and Stephen East having put points on the board. That left them needing three points from six singles – duly delivered by Woodhead, Cain and Sanby. For Woodhead – who played for Yorkshire last year when Sussex took the title at Grange Park – it was an emo- tional few days. He said: “I was in tears when I won my game on the 16th. Having lost last year it’s not a pleasant feeling so to get revenge and come away as winners is great. “It was a big team effort from all eight players. Only six can play but we had a good rotation policy. “This year we got it bang on. It meant a lot to me to win two games today and to get one of the big winning points in the afternoon. “We have a lot of clubs in Yorkshire, more than a team such as Wiltshire. But you’ve still got to bring eight guys with you that can do it and we have.” For Wiltshire and their captain Nigel Phillips, it was a memorable week despite falling just short. They arrived here with the ambition of winning one of their matches. They left after posting two wins while Marlborough’s Jez Tomlinson finished the finals as leading points scorer with five and a half out of six. Kent finished third in the table with one win to show for their efforts while Warwickshire finished fourth with a draw and two losses. On day 1 against Wiltshire Yorkshire found themselves behind at lunchtime, as Jones and Cain, plus Woodhead and Sanby were both edged out 1- up, before East and Backhouse earned them a much-needed lifeline with a 2&1 win. Yorkshire men came out roaring in the singles though, only Clarke losing out to the impressive Tomlinson 1-up, and last man Cain getting a half as wins for Richard Norton, Jones, East and Backhouse gave Yorkshire a 5.5-3.5 winning margin. On day-2 Warwickshire, who had lost to Kent and would fall to Wiltshire on day- 3, showed real grit in halving the morning foursomes. And although Norton, Jones and Woodhead took the Tykes out to a 4.5-1.5 lead, Warwickshire stormed home in the last three matches out to square the scores. That set up the final day showdown with the men from Kent. Clarke/Woodhead (4&2) and East/Backhouse (5&3) earned a 2-1 morning lead, but three of the first four singles out after lunch went down 2&1, only Woodhead salvaging a win. Thankfully, it wasn’t as close as it could have read from the scoreboard, because Cain (6&4) and last man Sanby (5&4) had already ensured Yorkshire had enough points in the bag to win the match 5-4 and earn another superb national title.