The final of the Southern Group Foursomes Final took place in very tough windy conditions at Ely City Golf Club on Tuesday 19th September. Despite facing three very strong counties in Kent, Sussex and Gloucestershire, the CAGU Seniors team were in great spirits and with the 18 hole foursomes format suiting us much better than our league 9 hole foursomes format, we felt we had a chance to produce yet another upset victory!
Using a two tee start, leading CAGU off in the morning round were Mark Lydon and Richard Beecroft. Although a new partnership, both proved a very stern test for their opponents from Gloucestershire and with neither side managing to get away from the other a good close match ensued. One of our course specialists and Ely member Robert Setchell, playing with CAGU Seniors stalwart Graham Goodman, were next off. Find their stride early with some fine play, Robert and Graham managed to squeeze out an early lead over the front 9 holes. Our Girton pair of Craig Russell and Doug Bottomley, who have played so well during the season with various partners, were our strong midfield combination. Again unfazed by the quality of a very strong Kent pairing Craig and Doug went toe-to-toe over the first nine holes securing a slim lead. Keith Moore and our current County Champion Terry Ryan were next into bat. Despite Terry returning from the Champion of Champions event with a back injury, Terry and Keith proved to be warriors out on the course and stayed in very close contention with their Kent opponents going to the turn all square.
Our final pairing was current Seniors Captain Ken Parsons and someone who needs no introduction Neil Hughes. In what was a match of very high quality, Ken and Neil found themselves one down at the turn despite only dropping one shot. With the morning round moving into the back nine, we were competitive in all matches and battling hard to keep momentum.
With our top game still really really close, fortune did not favour us and one of those classic foursomes hole turnarounds on the last saw Mark and Richard lose by one hole. Robert and Graham who had put up a really solid performance all morning, were desperately hanging on to their one hole lead coming down the last, but again, their opponents managed to win this from the most unlikely of places. A half point it was, but in truth another foursomes dagger for us. The morning that started so well was starting to slip away and despite a really strong performance from Craig and Doug a few bad holes on the trot at the start of the back nine meant their Kent opponents took the point. Badly needing wins, Terry and Keith were out on course battling away in yet another close game but some really good play from their opponents over the last six holes saw another close game go against us 2/1. At the back the excellent golf continued with pars or better required to win holes. Ken and Neil drew level on the third and having hit two great shots into four managed to three putt from 20 ft for par after a costly miss from the Captain. Fueled by the missed putt, Ken and Neil continued to play par golf and ask all the questions but good birdie chances at seven and eight slipped agonisingly by. Despite another very strong ninth hole (the last) Neil and Ken had to settle for a half point with their Gloucestershire opponents getting up and down for par for the third time in the last four holes.
A morning that had promised so much had turned against us as we could only manage 1 point despite some really good play. As we all know foursomes can be a cruel game but the score really didn’t do us justice. In this 36 hole foursomes format you really have to get at least 2/12 points to stand and chance and with Kent amassing 4 1/2 points in the morning we knew a clean sweep in the afternoon was our only chance.
Completely undeterred by the things that had gone against us in the morning, the team went out in the afternoon in good spirits and a very determined mood while still hopeful of moving up the leaderboard.
Unfortunately things went against us early in the afternoon rounds. Mark and Richard who had battled gallantly all day, got behind early and could not overcome the loss of a few early holes finally going down to their opponents from Kent. Robert and Graham, who came away with an excellent half in the morning, also fell behind early and could not recover finally losing to their opponents. The afternoon fightback began with Craig and Doug, who were still smarting from their morning loss, as they went into ‘refuse to lose’ mode and in a very good quality game secured a much deserved half point. Terry and Keith were in similar mood and always keeping their noses in front against a strong Sussex pairing got a much deserved victory on the last finally winning 2up. This was a great effort by Terry considering the pain he was in and with Keith being the perfect partner, summed up the determination of the team. Ken and Neil knew they were playing really good foursomes golf and continued where they left off in the morning. After starting the round with two bogeys they then proceeded to be 1 under for the next 11 holes and were simply too strong for their Gloucestershire opponents finally winning 6/5.
As the dust settled on a long hard tough day on the golf course, we managed to get above Gloucestershire to finish in third place on 3 1/2 points. Given the team changes we had to make and the injuries we were carrying into the final it was a truly admirable effort from the CAGU Seniors team. After the way things went against us in the morning, it would have been easy to shrink away in the afternoon. However, we came back strong and determined and thoroughly deserved our third place with a performance that everyone can be proud of.