The Wheeler Salver

Four of the County’s best golfers competed for the matchplay championship on 31st October at the Gog Magog Old Course

Terrible weather conditions greeted the contestants on the 1st tee, with strong winds and rain that got heavier as the morning progressed.

In the first of the semi finals, last year’s beaten finalist Luke Bowers, of the home club, took on Matt Hartley, the current manager of the Links Golf Club, Newmarket.

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It was a tight match with the final few holes played in the worst of the weather. The match was all square coming down the 18th hole and both players, after great drives, put their second shots just a few yards short of the green.

Matt chipped up well and the putt was conceded. Unfortunately Luke caught his chip a bit heavy and came up well short of the flagstick. He then missed his putt to save the match and Matt went through to the final by 1 hole.

In the other match George Howard of Gog Magog played Richard Southall of the Saffron Walden golf club. Both have had a very good golfing summer so it promised to be a tight match with George the slight favourite with having home advantage

Richard was 1 up at the turn, then increased his lead to 3 up after thirteen holes, and finally ran out a worthy winner by 3 & 2.
With both of the home players eliminated, and the sun coming from behind the clouds, everything was set for a great final, with a new name to be engraved on the silver salver.

It was Richard’s first appearance in the final but for Matt it was going to be his 5th attempt at winning this prestigious championship, having the unenviable record of losing in 4 consecutive finals from 1998 to 2001.

Having said that most golfers in Cambridgeshire would have loved to be good enough at the game to reach one final let alone four! The round started badly for Matt who found himself 3 down after only four holes, and things only got worse when Richard followed up his birdie on the 2nd by holing a monster putt on the par 3 sixth hole for a birdie to go 4 holes up.

A spirited fight back by Matt, which included a birdie on the 7th, reduced the arrears to 2 holes at the turn but Richard turned up the heat again with an approach shot to 3 feet at the 10th hole for another birdie to go back to 3 up.

Holes 12 and 13 were exchanged before Richard birdied the par 5 fourteenth hole to go 4 up with 4 holes to play.

A new champion was crowned on the 15th green when the Saffron Walden player holed a 20 foot putt to win the match by 4&3.

Both the semi final matches and the final were played in a great spirit and the final was refereed by County Secretary and President elect Alan Duggins.

The winner received the Wheeler Salver and a voucher for £175 with the beaten finalist £125 and the losing semi finalists a box of Titleist pro v1’s.

It capped off a very successful year for Richard having had high finishes in both the County Championship and the Titleist/FootJoy supported County Open.

For Matt it was back to the drawing board for another attempt on the elusive title in 2022.

Entries open for the 2022 Wheeler Salver on 2nd January next year.