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17th September 2012


Jo Hodge (Image © Leaderboard Photography)

Gloucestershire held on through a nailbiting finish to beat defending champions Lincolnshire 5-4 on the first day of the England Golf women's County Finals at East Devon Golf Club.

In the day's other matches Essex beat Surrey 6½-2½; while Lancashire defeated Buckinghamshire 6-3.  Gloucestershire had to come from behind to beat Lincolnshire. They trailed 2-1 after the morning foursomes and, with singles matches running out, they had to win the last two games on the course to grab the point.

Shelby Smart, their county champion and an England girl international, claimed an impressive scalp when she defeated Lincolnshire's Helen Hewlett by two holes. Helen is a past British champion, Curtis Cup player and a winner on the LPGA Tour.  Then Jo Hodge (Image © Leaderboard Photography) completed the turnaround when she won her game by one hole. She had been two up with two to play, ensuring a half at least for her team - but Gloucestershire wanted a win. 

Team captain Karen Rix said: "Jo was a real star! I have no nails left, but it was a great start and I am really, really chuffed. We knew this would be tough, Lincolnshire are a good side and they have such a lot of experience."  Essex, who are playing at County Finals for the first time in over 20 years, produced a superb singles performance to seal their first day's win over Surrey. 

The young team, composed mostly of teenagers, won five out of the six afternoon games but, despite the scoreline, the matches were close. Only Paige Kemp - playing for the county for the first time this year - won her game by a comfortable margin. The others all finished on the 17th or 18th. Earlier in the day the team seemed odds-on to win the morning foursomes 2-1. But Surrey's third pair fought back from three down with three to play, to halve their game and square the points at lunch. Essex captain Amanda Colegate-Herbert remarked: "It's a great start, a good day's work, and hopefully it will continue." 

Lancashire, the 2009 champions, set up their win when they took all the morning foursomes to hold a 3-0 lead at lunchtime. Buckinghamshire, playing at County Finals for the first time in 34 years, rallied to share the afternoon singles, but could not deny their opponents a comfortable victory as the match ended in heavy drizzle.  Lancashire captain Val Moran commented: "We have to be very pleased and satisfied with our first day's result. The score looks comfortable, but this afternoon's singles were very close and keenly contested, with a number going to the 18th."  She added: "This course is wonderful and I think the girls are finding it a really good test of golf. The greens are very tricky and I think that's where it's going to be won and lost."

Essex 6½ Surrey 2½
Daisy Dyer & Paige Kemp beat Sammy Fuller & Lisa McGowan 4/3
Kelly Martin & Sam Lovell lost to Inci Mehmet & Annabel Dimmock 5/4
Gabriella Cowley & Ashleigh Greenham halved with Louisa Tarn & Tana Churchill

Dulcie Sverdloff lost to Mehmet 2/1
Sophie Madden beat Katie Fewster 2/1
Kemp beat Dimmock 4/3
Greenham beat Churchill 1 up
Cowley beat Nicola Taylor 1 up
Dyer beat McGowan 2/1

Gloucestershire 5 Lincolnshire 4
Hannah Barwood & Shelby Smart lost to Helen Hewlett & Jess Wilcox 3/2
Lucy Padley & Jemima Gregson lost to Sophie Beardsall & Emilee Taylor 3/2
Jo Hodge & Bethan Popel beat Emily Slater & Megan Illingworth 5/4
Smart beat Hewlett 2 up
Popel lost to Wilcox 3/2
Padley beat Bearsall 4/2
Alison Kelly lost to Slater 3/2
Barwood beat Emma Tipping 8/6
Hodge beat Taylor 1 up

Lancashire 6 Buckinghamshire 3
Catherine Roberts & Hollie Vizard beat Luan Skeates & Clara Leathers 2/1
Nikki Foster & Elizabeth Stebbings beat Denise Goodacre & Charlotte West 3/2
Eloise Healey & Sophie Lamb beat Susanna Mitterer & Shamiso Hatchard 3/2

Roberts beat Zoe Fitz-Costa 2 up
Bethany Garton halved with West
Stebbings beat Julia Gallagher 1 up
Foster lost to Leathers 6/5
Sophie Powell halved with Hatchard
Vizard lost to Skeates 3/2

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