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ENGLAND RETAIN AULD ENEMIES CUP AFTER CLOSEST FINISH YET

 

The come back of the season was staged at Lundin Golf Club, Lundin Links, Fife, as England came back from the brink to draw with Scotland in the Scotland v England Blind Golf Competition, thus retaining the Auld Enemies Cup which they had won last year.

For three days from Tuesday 14th to Thursday 16th August, the best of the two countries’ blind golfers battled in largely glorious conditions on the Open Qualifying Championship course at Lundin Links. The competition follows the format of the Ryder Cup, with the first day devoted to foursomes, fourballs on the second and singles on the closing day.

Rivalry between the two countries is high - little separated the teams in previous meetings: Scotland 6 wins, England 6 and one competition drawn. This year’s competition therefore had more than a little tension - and a little needle. The proceedings were officially launched by Ronnie Corbett, one of the patrons of the Scottish Blind Golf Society, at the Lundin Golf Club on practice day, Monday 13th August. Ronnie has been a great friend and supporter of Blind Golf - indeed, his love of golf is legendary.

On Tuesday 14th, Scotland enjoyed a good day’s play, with the opening pair, Ian Prime and Jim Gales, the Director of the Scottish Blind Golf Society, beating Neil Baxter and Malcolm Elrick of England 3 and 2. The next match, between Ken Freeman and Sam Sloan of Scotland and Andy Gifford and Derek Field of England, was halved.

The English levelled, with Mike Loten and Jay Cookson beating Stewart Traquair and Bennett Ward 2 and 1. This was followed by an excellent win by Scots Gerry Kelly and Ally Reid, beating Barry Ritchie and Ron Alfree 6 and 4. The English immediately recovered with a resounding win, 6 and 5, by Sue Louden-Reid and Sandy Burne, beating Scots Ian Moncrieff and Allan Gray.

It was up to Scotland’s Captain, Rog Jeffrey, and his partner Stuart Wilkie to give Scotland an opening day lead. It all came down to the last hole, which the Scots won to give them a two hole victory over Roy McKnight and Peter Hodgkinson. The day’s play finished with Scotland leading England 3½ to 2½.

Rog Jeffrey commented, "It was a slightly nervy win for us, with both teams playing well at the same time. However, we’re delighted to get off to a flying start, a lead which hopefully we shall maintain over the coming two days".

Day Two provided glorious conditions for the fourballs, ensuring that most of the players were at their peak. First out was Scottish Captain Rog Jeffrey with partner Stewart Traquair who outplayed Roy McxKnight and Ron Alfree, winning 3 and 2.

The second Scottish pairing of Sam Sloan and Ken Freeman also won their match, this time 3 and 1 against Sue Louden-Reid and Sandy Burne. The English saw a glimmer of hope when Andy Gilford and Derek Field beat Ally Reid and Jim Gales by two holes, closely follwed by the English pairing of Mike Loten and Jay Cookson who won their match 5 and 4 against Stuart Wilkie and Eddie Moffat.

However, Scots Gerry Kelly and Bennett Ward put in a fine performance against Barry Ritchie and Peter Hodgkinson, winning 7 and 5.

The final Scots pairing of Iain Prime and Ian Moncrieff ended a spectacular Scottish performance by winning 3 and 2 against Neil Baxter and Malcolm Elrick. At the end of the second day’s play the score stood at Scotland 7½, England 4½ - an excellent lead to take into the last day. But how things can change!

Play in the first four singles was pretty even, with England’s Barry Ritchie beating Eddie Moffat by one hole, Sam Sloan keeping the Scots ahead against Neil Baxter 6 and 5, closely followed by another Scottish win by Kenny Freeman over Sandy Burne, 4 and 2. Jay Cookson kept English hopes alive, beating Iain Prime 5 and 3.

The next four matches again could not separate the teams. Scotland’s Stewart Traquair went down to Ron Tomlinson 3 and 1, although Gerry Kelly had an impressive win over England’s Sue Louden-Reid 7 and 6. A ray of light for England appeared in the form of Andy Gilford, with his 5 and 4 win over Jim Gales, but Stuart Wilkie kept the Scots riding high with a two hole win over Peter Hodgkinson.

With the score now 11½ to Scotland, 8½ to England, the home side therefore needed just one win from the last four matches to regain the Auld Enemies Cup. Scottish Captain Rog Jeffrey helped things along, halving his match with Derek Field.

But then disaster struck the Scottish team, with Allan Gray falling to Roy McKnight 5 and 3, followed by an impressive English win with Mike Loten beating Ally Reid 7 and 6.

It therefore all depended on the final match, a very even affair between Scot Ian Moncrieff and Ron Alfree. Scotland needed half a point to win the Cup, and in a true grandstand finish, play came down to the final putts on the 18th green. Ron eventually holed out to win by one hole, ending the competition at a 12 each draw.

The Scottish team was clearly disappointed not to have capitalised on the 7½ to 4½ lead it took into the final day's play, but the Scottish Captain Rog Jeffrey was upbeat about the result 'Obviously it would have been great to bring the Cup back to Scotland but I am delighted with the spirit in which the match was played. The boys played their hearts out and with the result coming down to the last putt on the last green in the final match, it couldn't have been closer'.

Note

Blind golf is played strictly to the R&A Rules of Golf, with one exception - players are allowed to ground their club in a hazard. Players use a sighted caddie or guide, whose role is to give the blind golfer verbal communication about each hole and discuss club selection. Depending on the level of blindness, the guide can then place the club head behind the ball. From then on, it is down to the blind golfer’s skill and golf swing. There is no reason why a blind golfer cannot achieve the same accuracy or distance as sighted players.

Further information can be found at www.blindgolf.co.uk

 

 
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