Hampshire moved into the lead at Women’s County Finals today when they beat Hertfordshire 6½-2½ in a gripping match at Belton Park Golf Club.
In the day’s other matches, defending champions Yorkshire rebounded from yesterday’s disappointment with a commanding 8½–½ win over Gloucestershire; and the hosts, Lincolnshire, scored their first win, beating Buckinghamshire 7-2.
The results mean Hampshire becomes the outright leader with three wins from three matches so far. Yorkshire and Hertfordshire both have two points, while Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire each have one. Gloucestershire have yet to score.
The day started with drizzle and ended in dank, murky conditions with the light failing fast as the final games concluded. But the golf was sparkling, with birdies galore rewarding attacking shots – and pleasing the many spectators.
The Hampshire/Hertfordshire clash was one of the key matches of the week so far and, although the scoreline looks clear cut, it was a close and tense affair.
The morning foursomes were shared after Hampshire’s Kerry Smith – a former Curtis Cup player – and girl international Emma Allen staged an impressive fightback to snatch a half in the final game. The pair were two down on the 16th but won both the remaining holes to take the teams into lunch on level terms.
Hampshire came out strongly in the singles and were ahead in most of the matches for most of the afternoon. But they were strongly challenged throughout, as evidenced by the match between Emma Allen and Hertfordshire’s Ella Ofstedahl: after the first seven holes Emma had scored four birdies and was just one up.
However, Emma gradually pulled ahead and won on the 15th, while Sarah Bradshaw made short work of her match, claiming her point on the 13th. Then, as the Hampshire officials and supporters anxiously exchanged updating texts, news came through of another fine fight by Kerry Smith. She got up in her match for the first time on the 15th and then forged ahead, also winning 16 and 17th to finish the 3/1 winner – and ensure that Hampshire couldn’t be beaten.
Kelly Travers (image © Leaderboard Photography) delivered the team’s win seconds later when she finished her match 5/3 and 17-year-old Charlotte Barrow won the 18th to grab her point and extend the overall score.
Hampshire and Hertfordshire used to be regional rivals in this competition, before it was reorganised, and Hampshire county captain Mags Clark had been under no illusions about the test her team faced. “It was always a tussle when we met years ago and we knew it would be the same,” she said. “It was lovely to meet again but, my goodness, we had to struggle to cross the line against them.”
Yorkshire, the defending champions, were beaten by Hampshire yesterday – but they came out today in great style to beat Gloucestershire.
They won all three morning foursomes: Claire Smith and Holly Morgan were just one up at the turn but then moved into top gear to win on the 14th; Olivia Hamilton and Megan Clarke were on even more devastating form, winning on the 12th; Rochelle Morris and Kirsty Beckwith completed the set with a 2/1 win.
In the afternoon, they were unbeaten in the singles and Holly Morgan and Megan Clarke both scored big wins to quickly secure the overall point.
County captain Sandra Fenn paid tribute to her young team, which includes five players who have joined the side since last year’s win in this championship. “They have done us proud and whatever happens I am really delighted with them,” she said.
Lincolnshire also found their form to record their first win of the week. They also won all three foursomes: Emily Slater and Helen Hewlett led the way followed by Emma Tipping and Sophie Bearsdall and then by Billie-Jo Smith and Helen McDougall.
They carried the momentum into the afternoon singles with wins by Helen Hewlett, Emma Tipping and Billie-Jo Smith, and halves from Emily Slater and Helen McDougall.
Tomorrow’s matches are:
Gloucestershire v Hampshire
Hertfordshire v Buckinghamshire
Yorkshire v Lincolnshire