On Saturday 21st July, Golf At Goodwood’s scratch team lost a closely fought match against Royal Ashdown Forest on The Downs Course for a place in the Semi-Finals of the Oliver’s Trophy.
Goodwood led 2.5 vs 1.5 after the morning foursomes session and had the momentum to push on in the afternoon chasing the four points required for outright victory.
Kerr and Ruggieri, who led Goodwood out in the morning, were drawn against two county age-group squad players and knew they had to be on their games. It was an epic tussle, with the match being decided on the last green, but Royal Ashdown Forest’s top pair holed from 30 feet for a birdie 3 to win. A great effort from Chris and Leo who were disappointed after playing so well to not come out on top.
Nick Tull linked back up with Dave Porter in the second match and after easing into a 2 up lead after nine holes, then found themselves 3 down with three to play after some poor iron play from Tull. A stunning second shot played by Porter from 240 yards out, into the teeth of the wind from the sixteenth fairway to a back right flag, set up a 25-foot eagle putt to win the hole. This was, without doubt, the highlight of the morning for the unbeaten duo. Two putts proved to be enough to claw back a hole. The seventeenth was won with a solid par 3 and Goodwood completed a remarkable comeback by converting a four-footer for a winning par 4 on the last green to halve the match.
Matt Lavington continued his impressive form this year supporting his partner Brian Arnell in the third match and the pair were up two holes up early but were pegged back to all square. This match also made it to the final hole and after a long straight drive by Arnell, Lavington put his 100-yard wedge shot to 12 feet. Arnell lagged the ball up to the hole and the match was won by the smallest of margins. With Goodwood winning the match, the scores were tied overall going into the final match.
In the final match, young Joe Sykes was once again ably supported by Stuart Gillett. The many years’ experience of Royal Ashdown’s captain Daly and partner Crowther wasn’t enough to compete. With Sykes and Gillett’s accuracy and impressive putting, the match was over by the 13th green meaning Goodwood took an invaluable 2&1/2 – 1&1/2 lead going into the afternoon matches.
The overall status of the match now meant that Goodwood required four points from a possible eight to progress to the semi-finals. Royal Ashdown Forest only had to draw the match six points all to progress as the away team. The stage was set for an exciting afternoon’s golf.
Ruggieri was given a sacrificial lamb in the shape of the visitors assistant secretary, who had been unwell prior to the match and subsequently was not on top form. Despite this Ruggieri had to work hard and secured the first of four points required on the seventeenth green, 3 & 1. A great start and the first point of the afternoon went to the home team!
Chris Kerr had found some form coming into the match but was not able to edge ahead and some solid golf from Smith meant the seventeenth was where this game also ended with Kerr losing 2&1.
2018 Club Champion Dave Porter played solid golf on the front nine and turned 1 up but he was taken all the way to the last hole where an unusual lapse of concentration led to a three-putt, meaning he lost 1 down.
The tide was turning at this point and Goodwood were on the rack. Stuart Gillett was up against the Sussex first team manager, Andrew Smith, who took an early lead after a mistake on the sixth from Gillett. Another mistake off the tee on sixteen also led to a loss and Gillett went down fighting on the seventeenth, a hole which was fast becoming crucial in the overall match. Royal Ashdown Forest were now ahead with a 4&1/2 vs 3&1/2 score.
Tull got off to the best possible start but then fell apart turning 4 down. Birdies on the next four holes meant he reeled his match back to only one down with five to play but a bunkered tee shot on the fourteenth and failing to hit the green on the seventeenth, he shook hands losing 3&1.
Lavington continued his consistent play into the afternoon singles and was under par when he stepped onto the eighteenth tee, knowing the visitors only required a further half point to progress. A long straight tee shot and a pinpoint wedge was followed by lipping out for birdie to keep Goodwood’s hopes alive, just! Lavington won 1 up and remains unbeaten in 2018 which brought the score back to 4 & ½ vs 5 & 1/2
Sadly this is where the positive news ran out and word from out on the course was that Arnell had not made it past the 16th hole and Royal Ashdown secured the 6&½ points needed to progress to the semi-final.
Joe Sykes fought hard against a very seasoned campaigner out last for Royal Ashdown Forest who played level par golf from the 3rd hole to win against Goodwood’s youngest ever scratch team player.
The Overall Final match score: Golf at Goodwood 4&½ vs 7&½ Royal Ashdown Forest GC
Congratulations to Royal Ashdown Forest on their victory and for travelling all the way over to Goodwood to play some very solid golf and seal it with an emphatic singles session. It was impressive and they will no doubt give Chartham Park a good run for their money in the semi-final at another hilly neutral venue, Pyecombe.
Thank you to all the supporters and caddies who helped the team on the day, and throughout the year, without the support we have received, these matches would be even more of a challenge than 36 holes in a day already provides. Thank you to James Plunkett kept the team hydrated throughout the day, the club for a discounted team shirt and I would personally like to thank the greenkeepers for assisting us in setting up the course.
Well done to the squad of players who represented Goodwood in our 2018 Oliver’s Trophy campaign:
Nick Tull (c), Dave Porter, Chris Kerr, Matthew Lavington, Stuart Gillett, Brian Arnell, Leonardo Ruggieri, Mike Mountain, Bike Howard, Jack Raison, Joe Sykes and Ben Andrews.
The scratch team have a handful of other competitions in which they will represent Goodwood during the rest of 2018 and will no doubt go again in 2019 of this trophy.