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Regional County Finals Win - the Captain's report

County Week 2021 - Captain’s Report
We arrived at Worthing with a young team which included 5 rookies and only one player (me!) over the age of 19. Given there was no county team golf last year, we were as eager as ever to get going and spirits were high as we played the practice round in gorgeous sunshine. All the players and our super backroom team of Sue, Val, Katrina and John had completed the necessary COVID checks prior to arrival, we had our Surrey face masks at the ready and Olivia and Val had done a sterling job of stocking the buggy!

 

The condensed format (just two foursomes and three singles matches against each county) always looked like it would result in very close matches and so it proved to be. On day 1 we were drawn against Kent in the morning and Hampshire in the afternoon. The weather had turned overnight and it was a wet and windy start to the day against Kent. There were some extremely close matches but we managed to win both foursomes by 2&1 before County Champion Sarah sealed the winning point with a 5&3 singles victory in the first singles match. Good start!

 

After a quick turnaround, we headed back out to play Hampshire. This time Sarah teamed up with her school-mate Alex to lead us out followed by Abbi and Ellen, two rookies who had done very well against Kent. Olivia and Canice, two of the more experienced players in the team, played in the singles again alongside Hyun-ji. The rain that had fallen steadily during the morning was now getting worse and in the end the match was abandoned whilst the games were on the 7th-12th holes. It was disappointing for the players as we had been doing well at the time, but it was the same for all the counties and it was the only option as the greens were waterlogged and becoming unplayable. Back to the hotel we went to try to dry off our clubs and kit ready for day 2 (note to self: encourage everyone to bring 2 pairs of golf shoes next time!) Olivia won the green jacket for shot of the day for her wonderful approach to the 18th in her morning match against Kent.

 

Tuesday morning arrived and unfortunately the rain had not gone away. Luckily for us, County Captain Sue can throw some disco shapes and her sun dance on the 1st tee soon did the trick! Following the abandoned games on Monday afternoon, we knew we now just needed to win as many games as we possibly could. The Surrey team did not disappoint. Sarah and Alex were quick out the blocks securing a 6&4 victory. They were shortly followed by Abbi and Ellen (4&3), Canice (4&3), Hyun-ji (4&2) and Olivia (2&1) for an overall 5-0 victory. Smiles all round as we headed to Worthing sea front for our rest afternoon and an ice cream. Remarkably, after 2 days of competition, all 5 rookies remained unbeaten and every player had contributed points. Hyun-ji was awarded the green jacket for her chip on the 16th to close out her match against a very experienced Middlesex player.

 

We decided to keep the team the same for the final day with the only change being a switch in the order of the foursomes pairings. This time Abbi and Ellen led us out and the unbeaten partnership continued their winning ways to record their 3rd successive win – not bad for the West Hill/Foxhills duo! Sarah and Alex were playing a very tough pair and found themselves 4 down early on. A spirited fightback saw them get back to just 1 down and eventually only just losing on the 17th green. Meanwhile Hyun-ji was not hanging about and played faultless golf to win 8&6. So that was 2 points in the bag and we knew we needed at least one more. Canice continued her fine form from the day before and was 2 up at the turn, eventually securing the winning match point for Surrey on the 16th green. Olivia was in fighting spirit and came back from 3 down after 12 to level the match after 15 holes. Her opponent birded 16 and, despite some great play from Olivia, her birdie putt just slid past the hole on the 18th to lose 1 down. Meanwhile in the match ahead, Hampshire had beaten Middlesex 4-1 which meant it all came down to game points won….

 

Hampshire and Surrey both had 100% winning records and by virtue of our 11 games to Hampshire’s 10, we pipped them to first place by just a single point. It couldn’t have been any closer.

 

 

Our team of eight, who represent eight different Surrey clubs, had gelled together so well and it was such an honour to be their Captain. This week wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of so many people and the team would therefore like to say a massive thank you to:
• Sue, Val and Katrina for their unrelenting support and encouragement and County Coach John Noble for all his advice and wise words!
• All of our caddies and supporters who made the journey down to Worthing, followed our progress online, sent us good luck cards and supported from afar. The team are so grateful for your support and it really does make a difference!
• Worthing GC and Sussex for putting on such a well-run event in very difficult circumstances
• All of the other counties for playing the matches in such great spirits – the South Region is a great region to be part of
We now look forward to representing the South Region at County Finals at Denham GC in September. Please do put the date on your diary (17-19th September) as it would be great to see lots of pink supporters there!

 

Match reports from each day can be accessed here (day 1, day 2, day 3) and the full results are available on Sussex’s website here.
Nicola Taylor
1st Team Captain
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