Pictured above: the Wiltshire team on the last day of South west week.
Back row: Wiltshire Golf President Phil Hodges, Gary Slade. Jamie Cooper, Tom Law and Simon Futcher
Front Row: Max Drayton, James Cooper, Wiltshire County captain Ali James, Joe Retford and Tom Stagg. Missing were Paul McMullen (Broome Manor) and Jake Bolton (Ogbourne).
On the sixth day of this years South West Counties Golf Association (SWCGA) championship week at Cumberwell Park GC we saw Wiltshire pitted against Somerset to see who would lift the match play shield. Somerset were in pole position needing only to win three points to triumph whilst Wiltshire needed a big win by at least a seven point margin.
Last off at 10 am, the weather of previous days had been replaced by calmer winds and scattered cloud and sun and was set fair for the day. 18 year old James Cooper led off against Alister Balcombe and was 6 under par in winning 7&5 but, unfortunately, that was about as good as it got all morning, with only Jamie Cooper (19) managing to get a point when he beat Sam Fearnley 2&1.
So that was the title decided but, there was still pride to play for and to give the team their due they responded brilliantly in the afternoon foursomes. Needing three wins and a half to beat Somerset (points difference meant that even if we won Somerset would still be champions) our "Tractor boys" stepped up to the plate. First out Tom Law and Max Drayton (both 21) beat Sam Sloman and Will Poole 2&1, next out James Cooper and old man Simon Futcher fought hard but were undone at the end eventually losing 2&1. Tom Stagg (18) and the baby of the team, 16 year old Joe Retford, came next and they were comfortably up all afternoon eventually winning 3&1 against Jack Palmer and Somerset captain Justin Lane. (Pictured below the two pairs shaking hands on the 17th green).
The final total was 6.5-7.5 and a well deserved third place for Wiltshire with three wins closely behind Gloucs with 4 wins (they having beaten Devon) and as I have already mentioned Somerset with 5 wins out of 5, so many congratulations to them.
Considering their relative youth this was a splendid performance, all week, from the Wiltshire team and they are to be congratulated on their efforts. Of special note was that four of them were playing in their first South West week (Tom Stagg, Joe Retford, Jamie Cooper and Max Drayton) and three of the team played in all of the matches (Tom Law, Max Drayton and Tom Stagg) and Tom Stagg played every day, 36 holes a day! what an effort.
To be runners-up in the England Golf strokeplay qualifier on Tuesday was an excellent team performance and whilst all of the team contributed in one way or another in the matchplay phase, our top matchplay points scorer for the week was the youngest of them all, Cumberwell's, Joe Retford, who managed 7.5 points from his nine appearances which was half a point ahead of Tom Law and Tom Stagg (plus his loyal caddy, county Junior Organiser, Ian Welding).
Well done everyone you have represented Wiltshire admirably and we are all very proud of you.
Wiltshire Golf would like to thank Ali James and every one of his team for making Cumberwell Park and all of it's wonderful facilities available to us for the week.