A light breeze greeted the teams which steadily increased all day until it was a three to four club wind for the all-important afternoon singles matches.
Nick Tull and David Porter went out first in a tough match against former Goodwood member Dean Hendry & Chris Sykes. The match was tight with never more than two holes in it, and after a couple of near misses halfway round the back nine, the match swung in Goodwood's favour after Porter holed a fifty-foot putt for a birdie two on the sixteenth green to take a slender 1 up lead up the seventeenth hole. Tull then buried a fifteen-foot birdie putt on the seventeenth green for a birdie four to win the match 2&1, the ideal start for Team Goodwood.
Matt Lavington and Paul Millard, a new Goodwood paring, played solidly tee to green in their first time out together with their games well matched hitting thirteen of seventeen greens. Their opponents fought hard getting up and down from some unbelievable spots on the links of Littlehampton and weren't quite able to build a lead. This match also swung on the sixteenth green when Littlehampton’s Strudwick holed a thirty-five-yard two bounce in-to-the-hole pitch from well out of position, meaning Goodwood had to convert their impressive tee shot which finished 6 feet from the hole for a birdie two. Sadly, the putt didn’t drop and another chance went begging from twenty feet for birdie on the penultimate green meaning they went down 2&1.
Marco Penge, the England and GB&I Walker Cup squad member made an immediate impression in his second appearance in The Oliver's Trophy. His partner was Leonardo Ruggieri and they made six birdies and hardly missed a fairway in their 3&2 victory giving Goodwood a 2-1 lead after three matches.
Stuart Gillett and Chris Kerr started well, Stuart holed a twenty-five-foot birdie putt on the first green to take an early lead but the anchor pairing struggled to keep the momentum in the middle of their round, but then got back in to top gear towards the end of their match. However, it went to the last hole and Kerr stood firm holing a fifteen-footer on the last green for a par 4 to win the match 1 up. This meant Goodwood secured a precious and unexpected 3 – 1 lead at lunchtime.
This was halfway to the six points Goodwood needed to progress as away team winners in the case of a 6 – 6 tie, and which would prove to be invaluable later in the day.
The afternoon singles started with the prevailing south-easterly wind increasing all the time. Lavington lead the team out and won the first two holes but was pegged back and eventually halved his match on the last hole, a good start to the afternoon session.
Marco Penge brought home the bacon twice, this time beating young Zac (Bacon) 7&5 hitting all but one fairway and all thirteen greens in a stunning display of control and power in very testing conditions. Martin Leo who caddied for Marco in the afternoon had the best seat in the house to watch a fine display of golf of the highest calibre.
Goodwood's middle order frustratingly didn't fare so well both losing their games. Leo was down early and didn't recover, Kerr took his to the last hole only for a bad bounce to ultimately end his chances of halving his match. The score now 4.5 – 3.5.
Gillett again played solidly in the afternoon, never behind and in full control of his match winning 5&4, this edged the points tally closer, now 5.5 – 3.5 in Goodwood's favour.
Tull was up next, he went two down early on and struggled to find a spark in his game until the twelfth where he birdied three of the next four holes to square the match.Littlehampton’s Strudgwick holed a forty-footer for birdie to take a 1 up lead down the last hole. He then hit the last green in regulation but eventually three putted for a bogey five leaving a chance for the Goodwood captain to win the hole, half their match and secure the half point needed. A deft chip gave him a chance and to the delight of Goodwood's gathered spectators and players, he holed the putt to send Goodwood in to the semi-finals for the first time in the history of the competition.
Porter and Millard who were both all square on the last hole decided with their opponents to shake hands on the fairway to half their matches bringing the final score to 5 – 7 in Goodwood's favour. A very sporting gesture from Littlehampton it must be said.
This was undoubtedly a true team performance with every player contributing to the points tally throughout the day. The team should be proud of the way they handled themselves in a difficult, competitive atmosphere which only increased towards the end. A special thank you must go to the 30+ supporters and caddies who all really played their part. It was great to see so many familiar faces when the team are out on the course battling away, and the support really did make all the difference.
Next up for Goodwood in the Semi Final on Saturday 5th August is East Brighton GC who beat Ifield in their quarter-final. The match will be played at a neutral venue and this means the team must travel to Tunbridge Wells to play at Nevill Golf Club, a top-quality parkland layout with fast, undulating greens. We know it is quite a distance from Goodwood however any support that can be given would be fantastic.
We wish the team the very best of luck for their semi-final match and hope they can reach the final which will be played on Saturday 19th August.
Good Luck Team Goodwood!