Cambridge produce great comeback

WITH 18 holes to play Cambridge University were staring defeat in the face in the 118th Varsity match at Aldeburgh, where the course was immaculate but the weather was decidedly chilly.

By Tony Garnett

WITH 18 holes to play Cambridge University were staring defeat in the face in the 118th Varsity match at Aldeburgh, where the course was immaculate but the weather was decidedly chilly.

Honours were shared in Friday's foursomes but the Light Blues trailed after 18 holes in seven of the 10 singles, were ahead in two and all square in the match between the captains.

The turnaround of fortunes in the afternoon was amazing as Cambridge won five matches, halved two and ended overall winners by eight and a half to six and a half.

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Victory was assured when news reached the clubhouse that Charles Richardson, two down at lunch, had beaten Simon Chambers 2 and 1. The two Oxford successes at the foot of the order from Olly Stephen and Ritchie Balmer came as no more than consolation prizes for the Dark Blues.

It was a tense but sporting encounter as was to be expected from the oldest established amateur event in the golfing calendar. It attracted the biggest crowd to watch golf in Suffolk in recent times other than at Stoke by Nayland last year for the PGA European Seniors Tour.

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One felt sorry for Oxford captain Philip Bickerton, who lost a tremendous tussle with his opposite number Edward Zaayman on the 18th green after missing a three foot par putt to halve the match.

Level after 18 holes, Bickerton soon established a two-hole advantage. Zaayman then won five in succession to be three up at the turn.

Bickerton regained the initiative by winning the 10th, 11th and 12th holes so the match was level with six to play.

A lost ball at the 14th with a wayward shot down the left saw Bickerton fall behind. At the par three 15th he produced a breathtaking chip stone dead from grass behind the bunker on the right. Zaayman three-putted. It was all square with three to play.

The drama continued. A 10-foot putt earned Bickerton a half at the 16th, but he missed a short one on the 17th that would have ensured at least a halved match.

Nerves played their part at the end. Both players were on the fringe of the 18th green in two with Bickerton better placed with an uphill putt from the left. Both approach putts were tentative. Zaayman completed his par from five feet. Bickerton, with a three-footer, saw the ball slide past the hole.

It was an agonising finish but at that stage no-one could have anticipated the full extent of the Cambridge revival, which must have delighted coaches Chris Aldred from Royal Worlington and Keith Preston from Aldeburgh.

n There is a field of 68 in the PGA East Region qualifying school, which is played over 36 holes at Bishop's Stortford Golf Club today and tomorrow. The top 50 gain automatic exemption to all of the five Order of Merit events which they have entered. The 18 players who miss out must take their chance in each of the pre-qualifiers for the five events.

There are 10 Suffolk PGA players in the field including Philip Rains, who has started a new assignment at the Bury Golf Range having completed his training at Belfair Park in Essex.

The other Suffolk players are Danny Barton, Andrew Collison, Andrew Tokley, Kelvin Vince, Paul Bate, Andrew Robinson, Kieran Canham and Tony Dobson.

Alex Lucas and Neil Mitchell have already qualified after finishing in the top 25 of last year's order of merit. Simon Dainty is also qualified as winner of the Suffolk PGA order of merit. Frank Hill gains automatic exemption as captain of the PGA East Region.

Essex players in the field at Bishop's Stortford include Scott Rusbridge of Frinton, James Gurry of Millers Barn, Jamie Lowe of Notleys, Andrew Pestell of Chelmsford and Warren Sargent of Towerlands.

n High winds buffeted the New South Wales Golf Club course near Sydney yesterday to such an extent that the fourth round of the Australian Amateur Championship was cancelled with some early starters as much as 23 over par. The fourth round will start afresh today with the top 32 qualifying for the match play starting tomorrow.

Suffolk's Jamie Moul is placed 23rd equal at four over par after three rounds of 68 76 and 70. Australians Andrew Dodt and Scott Arnold share the lead at six under. Other English scores: David Horsey 66 74 66, Ben Parker 67 65 77, Gary Boyd 71 72 69, Seve Benson 75 71 68, Steve Lewton 74 70 71.

Results round-up



(Over 36 holes. Cambridge University names first)

Ruaraidh Stewart and Chris Nelson lost to Edward Oddy and Matthew Locke 4 and 3.

Thomas Woolsey and Charles Richardson halved with Michael Canty and Philip Bickerton (captain).

Gerald Powell and David Chapman beat Thomas Smith and John Gibbons 11 and 10.

Johannes Smit and James Partington lost to Simon Chambers and Simon James 8 and 7.

Amir Habibi and Edward Zaayman (captain) beat Oliver Stephen and Ritchie Balmer 9 and 8.

Singles (36 holes)

Zaayman beat Bickerton one up, Smit lost to Oddy 6 and 5, Nelson halved with Canty, Habibi halved with Locke, Richardson beat Chambers 2 and 1, Powell beat Gibbons 4 and 3, Chapman beat James 7 and 6, Woolsey beat Smith 7 and 6, Partington lost to Stephen 2 and 1, Stewart lost to Balmer 3 and 2.

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