On Saturday 24th September 2016 the scene was set for the Matchplay Finals Day at Burstwick. Players were to be put through their paces with difficult conditions caused by the a 20 mph wind which we haven't seen a lot of this summer, though thankfully it was dry and warm throughout the afternoon.
There were five matchplay finals to be played on the day: Scratch (no handicap), Men's, Seniors', Ladies' and Juniors'. Ordinarily there would be a sixth final, the Greensomes, but as Sam Bamford had qualified for both the Men's final and the Greensomes' only one could be played on Finals Day. All of the matches were to be played over 18 holes apart from the Scratch which is a 36 hole final.
Tee times began at 1pm (second round for the scratch, first round was played in the morning) and the players headed out for their matches with all intents of being crowned champions. There were some nerves on the first tee but all of the players settled into their rhythm after a couple of holes.
The Scratch Final was to be contested by Jack Maxey and Lee Webster, and things were all square after the morning round as they teed off for hole number 19. Lee got an early lead but Jack made a fantastic birdie from the rough up hole four to bring it back to all square. For the next few holes Lee put the throttle down and was leading four up at the turn. Lee's progress continued as they went on and ended up being six up with six to play, then closing out on the 13th hole with a solid par.
Jack played very well but as matchplay goes, once Lee got a few holes ahead the pressure mounted which lead to Jack having to chase and ultimately coming unstuck. All credit to Lee on a great performance, it was very consistently controlled golf on a tough day!
Onto the Men's Final and it was two young guns headed against each other; Sam Bamford and Gregor Everitt. Both players know each other well and are very capable golfers so this was always going to be a thrilling match.
Sam got an early lead and was two up after six holes, but Gregor fought back straight away to bring it back to all square at the turn. As the players headed into the back nine Gregor pulled off some great golf to edge a lead against Sam, but it was still very nip and tuck for both players as they headed to the 14th tee with just two holes separating them. As they teed off on 16 Sam was up against the wall being two down, and tried to dig in to give himself a fighting chance, but Gregor remained cool to seal victory 3&2.
In the Seniors' Final, Ron Wicks took an early lead against John McNeish, and kept on the cruise control all the way through the match to try and keep John at bay. John did his absolute best to fight back after Ron stretched the lead to 4 through 13 holes, and going down 16 Ron was 3 up with three to play. Ron stayed in control and won the hole to clinch victory 4&2.
The Ladies Final was contested by Chris Wicks and Ann Roberts. Both of the girls are very steely competitors with good matchplay records so this was always going to be a tight match. Ann got out of the blocks early to take a three hole lead through five holes, and she was playing some great golf which meant Chris wasn't given many opportunities to gain some ground back.
Chris showed great patience and determination as she slowly clawed her way back into contention and was just one down after 11 holes. Ann was frugal and would not give the lead up without a fight, and the two players jostled hole after hole, with eventually the match going down to the wire and both players putting on the 18th hole to decide the outcome. Chris came through and managed to two putt to take victory after Ann had had the lead throughout the day, a cruel way to lose but credit to Chris for her determination throughout the match and making it a Wicks one-two in the Ladies' and Seniors' finals!
Finally the Junior Final was to be contested by 13 year old Alfie Tidder and 15 year old Liam Colclough. Both players are great young prospects for the sport and have swings that most of us would give a limb for, so some special golf was to be seen here.
Alfie took an early lead and was playing some very solid golf, he was two up after five holes. As the game went on there was only ever two holes to separate both players, and Liam was hanging in there with Alfie trying his best to keep him at arms length. After 11 holes Alfie had retained his two hole lead, but over the next few holes Liam put in some great golf to get back to all square after 15.
Liam had really gotten into his stride at this point while Alfie was hanging in there, and having to give shots away on 16 and 18 ultimately came to his demise with Liam paring both holes. Alfie needed to hole a 50 foot birdie putt to take the game to extra holes and unfortunately it wasn't to be and the players shook hands. Congratulations to both juniors on a great game and well done to Liam for coming back strong to take the win.