Ipswich hold nerve to win shield

WHEN Alex Holmes sunk a 45-foot putt on the last green in his singles match against Neil Meadows it looked as though Gorleston had the upper hand in a tremendous Stenson Shield final against Ipswich.

Tony Garnett

WHEN Alex Holmes sunk a 45-foot putt on the last green in his singles match against Neil Meadows it looked as though Gorleston had the upper hand in a tremendous Stenson Shield final against Ipswich.

A cheer went up from the Gorleston supporters at Rookery Park. Holmes fell to the ground with his arms in the air in relief and jubilation. Meadows looked stunned.

The Ipswich player was left with a 12 foot putt to halve the match. The odds against him succeeding seemed to be growing longer by the second. Meadows took a deep breath to compose himself. There was a hush around the green as his putt rolled safely into the centre of the hole.

It proved to be a crucial result. Ipswich went on to retain the trophy by six and a half matches to five and a half.

It had been a memorable tussle between Holmes and Meadows. The Ipswich player was two up for a while when four under par but Holmes fought back so they were level on the 17th tee.

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Meadows put his approach shot, from a tricky lie on the bank behind a fairway bunker, in rough behind the green. Holmes was 25 yards short of the green in two and pitched to within 14 feet. Meadows chipped out and, if his shot had been a foot longer it would have been perfect. As it was the ball flew off the down-slope of a mound at the edge of the green and finished some 50 feet from the pin.

Meadows putted dead, Holmes just missed so they went to the last all square.

Both drives were long and straight at the last which is a 479 yard par five. Meadows' second was pin high in semi-rough to the left of the green. Holmes was in a bunker 30 yards short. His shot out of the sand was perilously close to landing him a second bunker but the ball stayed out. This preceded the epic finish.

It was not the only drama to unfold on the last green. Geraint Amos looked set to take a point off Paul Barnard who produced a Houdini-like escape with an approach shot from 70 yards that left him with a formality of a putt.

Amos, having to chip out of the rough, then put his approach close but missed the vital putt for victory that left their match halved.

Gorleston led by one point after the foursomes. Adam Hasell produced a powerful finish to beat Kristian Day 2 and 1 after they were level on the 15th tee. Steve Crosby, despite a mini-recovery from Jack Jowers in the last nine, was dormie two ahead when Gorleston's cause was already lost so the match was not completed.

Ian Brown scored the biggest win of the day beating the experienced John Maddock 5 and 4 while young Chris Gooding showed impressive consistency to overcome Kevin Woods 4 and 3.

Ipswich team captain Graham Wardley beat Chris Duffy 2 and 1 but it was only when Nathan Howe's 2 and 1 victory over Ray Thomson was completed that Ipswich knew they had won. Howe, a comparative newcomer to the Ipswich squad from Stoke by Nayland, was mobbed by his team mates as though he had just scored a goal in the FA Cup final. The width of his smile showed how much it meant to him.

Ipswich professional Kevin Lovelock watched the match which was, thankfully, played in sunny conditions. Rain in previous days had meant that the fairways did not have much run but Rookery Park has developed into one of Suffolk's leading courses with trees now well established. The Stenson Shield, a scratch competition, can surely now claim to be the premier inter-club knock-out in Suffolk despite the historical claims of the Hambro Cup which is played off handicap.

Scores

IPSWICH 6.5 GORLESTON 5.5

At Rookery Park. Ipswich names first.

Foursomes

Kristian Day and Neil Meadows lost to Alex Holmes and Adam Hasell 2 and 1.

Chris Gooding and Jack Jowers halved with Ray Thomson and Chris Duffy.

Paul Barnard and Graham Wardley beat David James and Danny Perring 7 and 6.

Nathan Howe and Ian Brown lost to John Maddock and Steve Crosby 4 and 3.

Singles: Meadows halved with Holmes, Day lost to Hasell 2 and 1, Barnard halved with Geraint Amos, Wardley beat Duffy 2 and 1, Howe beat Thomson 2 and 1, Gooding beat Kevin Woods 4 and 3, Jowers lost to Crosby two down, Brown beat Maddock 5 and 4.

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