Cornwall lost their last 2019season Channel League match, yet again by the finest of margins, away to Wiltshire on the hill top Salisbury & South Wilts Golf Course. County Captain Ian Veale reports on his final match in charge of the Duchy team.
Leading the team for my last time as Cornwall County Captain, we travelled to Wiltshire and to Salisbury & South Wilts Golf Club on a bright yet breezy day, where there was little escaping the wind on a course set atop the rolling hillside. As with the weather it was Cornwall who made the brighter start in the morning foursomes with a win from Conor Wilson and partner Rob MacGregor, before Steve Davies & Aaron Stephens added a further half of a point in the second foursomes match.
Wiltshire secured the points in matches three and five, both by a score-line of 3&2 to edge ahead before the Cornwall pairing of Thomas Stephens & Liam Wilson, both making their debut for the men’s team got the perfect start with an 18th hole win to ensure the duchy took lunch with the score locked at 2½ points each.
After eight holes of the ten singles matches Cornwall led in just two matches, with Wiltshire leading the way in five matches; two of the five by margins of 4 holes, however the back nine witnessed something of a comeback to ensure the match would go the distance.
MacGregor was edged out in the top singles by Salisbury & South Wilts member, and Wiltshire county champion, Tom Stagg on the 17th hole. Stephens would level the match with a great final hole win against the ever-impressive Gary Slade. Wiltshire again forged ahead when Martin Sell defeated Wilson only to be pegged back again when Davies won the 18th hole for a victory over Wiltshire captain Ali James. When Fox secured a 6&4 win over Peter McMullen Cornwall held the lead by 5½ - 4½ …… could the team deliver a win for their Captain in his last match?
Now it was Wiltshire’s turn to steal win wins over Stephens & Gurd respectively to enable them to take the lead at a vital point of the match (5 ½ - 6 ½). Debutant Wilson would sign off the day unbeaten when he registered a half against Max Drayton (6 – 7)
Just two matches remained on the course – George Champion on the 18th tee at 1 down, having been 5 down at one stage, and Joe Reynard standing 2 up on the 17th tee. The team looked on (above) knowing that Champion needed to win the Par 3 - 18th hole to keep the game alive. Both players missed the green. Champion chipped on to 15 feet before his opponent chipped to 18 inches. Champion was not done as he holed his putt to the delight of his team-mates; now it was down to Max Wrixon of Wiltshire to hole out and claim the eighth point………… which he duly did to the relief of the Wiltshire skipper, James.
Reynard saw out his game against the experienced Jez Tomlinson for a final score-line of 8 – 7 in favour of the home team.
Both captains thanked the host club for their hospitality and the quality of the golf course. James made special mention of the Cornwall skipper, in this, his last match and thanked him for his friendship over the past two years as opposing Captains and the many years prior to that as fellow county players.
Veale was generous in his thanks of the many people who have offered words and gestures of support during his spell as Captain (something he will elaborate on in his farewell speech at the County Dinner to be held on 15 November at the Bristol Hotel, Newquay) and made a point of highlighting the successful debuts of both Stephens & Wilson who he feels have long county golf careers ahead of them.
He continued by expressing how proud he has been to be the county captain and how much he has enjoyed the role, wishing his successor and great friend, Charlie Phillips all the very best when he officially takes over in November.
2019 Channel League Results for Cornwall - (April) Cornwall 6 - 9 Gloucestershire, Gwent 8.5 - 6.5 Cornwall, (June) Glamorgan 8.5 - 6.5 Cornwall, (Aug) Cornwall 8 -7 Somerset, (Sept) Cornwall 8 - 7 Devon, (Oct) Wiltshire 8 - 7 Cornwall