Fourth-time lucky for super Sussex
SURREY: Saturday October 9th
FORMAT: four-team, round-robin matchplay
The Sussex Men’s Seniors team have experienced some bad breaks in the County Finals in recent times but yesterday at Grange Park that was all put behind them as they won the England Golf event for the first time.
Having qualified for the four-county finale for the fourth time in a row, they did not let a weather-enforced rejig of the format to effect them, finishing above of reigning champions Yorkshire, Dorset and Warwickshire.
Two years ago Sussex went toe-to-toe with the White Rose powerhouses only to be denied by an outrageous eagle from Yorkshire’s Andy King, who holed out from 80 yards in the decisive match.
Twelve months earlier it was a 40-foot putt in the deciding tie with Lancashire that killed Sussex’s chance of winning it for the first time. In 2017 they also finished second to Yorkshire.
However yesterday, at the Lancashire venue, there would be no such dramas. The Southern champions knew a victory over Dorset would guarantee them the trophy and they didn’t lose any of the eight ties in racking up a 6.5-1.5 success.
Team manager Rick Thomas has overseen all of the county’s near misses and was delighted for his squad.
“The best thing about them is they are a team,” he said. “They play for each other and help each other and even when someone isn’t playing they go out of their way to lend a hand.
“They’ve been outstanding. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to lead them and has been great to have been part of it all.
“Martin Galway said finally winning it is not so much of a monkey off our backs as more like a gorilla. That said just qualifying four times in a row is an outstanding achievement when you consider we are up against 10 ten other counties every year.”
Victorious Sussex squad:
• Andy Barnes (Pyecombe)
• Martin Galway (East Sussex National)
• Steve Graham (East Sussex National)
• Colin Jones (West Sussex)
• Martin King (Ifield)
• Doug Park (Cooden Beach)
• Paul Plant (East Sussex National)
• Andrew Smith (Royal Ashdown Forest)
Res: Mark Logan (Copthorne)
Galway, the Wales Seniors Open champion, has been one of the mainstays of the Sussex squad. His 4&3 victory yesterday morning over Dorset’s John Smith stretched his unbeaten run in the competition to 19.
A day earlier he won 4&2 against Ian Clarke as Sussex opened with a 4-4 draw against Yorkshire and then after lunch he helped his side beat Warwickshire 5-3 to go top of the table.
The tournament had been due to start on Thursday but heavy rain forced a day one abandonment. It meant changing the format to ensure each county could play each other so instead of the usual three morning foursomes followed by six singles in the afternoon, eight singles ties decided the matches.