The South Western Counties Golf Association completed its series of 2021 events with the Seniors Championship at the glorious Ferndown GC in Dorset over the past two days. And it was the home and host county who earned the honours in qualifying for the Seniors County Championship later this year. For Cornwall it was to be a 5th spot finish with a team score 52 shots behind the winners over the two rounds. With extreme heat and greens running at 11 on the stimp this was though a true test over the lovely Ferndown course.
Final Team Totals: 1st Dorset 743, 2nd Wiltshire 759, 3rd Devon 776, 4th Gloucestershire 784, 5th Cornwall 795 and 6th Somerset 813.
For Captain Paul Clahane the decision to be made in advance was to name 6 of his 8 man team to figure in the team's aggregate total which itself would be made up from the best 5 of those 6 on each of the two days. Naming 6 was the easy bit but sadly as it transpired Cornwall were 24 shots behind Dorset at the end of Round 1 and playing for pride was all that was left for the Duchy in reality as they set foot on the course on day two.
In the first of the medal stroke play rounds the shining light for Cornwall was Gary Stone (Bude & N Cornwall) who returned a two over par 73 to lie in 7th spot in the individual competition. Stone was one of Clahane's 6. Unfortunately the remainder of the team could not match his score with only Mark Blaber (Carlyon Bay) also managing to return a score in the 70s (78). Round 2 did not prove to be any better for the Duchy although it was for County Mens Captain Charlie Phillips (Newquay) also in the 6 who returned the teams best day two score of 76. Richard Bunch (West Cornwall) was the only other player in the 70s (78). Stone was unable to maintain his momentum falling away to an 86.
The overall individual honours went to Gary Earl (Dorset) with rounds of 70 & 74 for a two over total of 144, two shots ahead of Devon's Peter Bicknell on 146 (68 & 74)
Full Cornwall Team Scores: Blaber (78, 81), Bunch (80,78), Colin Kitt (China Fleet 89,84), Phillips (83,76), Andy Rowe (Looe 80,82), Stone (73, 86), Steve Barns (West Cornwall 82,82) and Kevin Mula (Newquay 83,83) Bunch was highest finisher for the Duchy in 17th spot, Phillips was 21st and Blaber 25th.
One other Cornwall based player took part as an individual and Mike Wigley (Mullion) returned a first round 78 followed by an 82 and this saw him finish in 6th spot in the Over 65s element to the competition.
Clahane said "It was very warm over both days and whilst it was the same for everyone it was hard work. I was really pleased with Gary Stone's first round and Charlie Phillips second but those two apart we did not deliver, struggling generally with the short game on a course where Dorset proved local knowledge is key. We need to work on the short game aspect amd this is something I will be looking at."