Gloucestershire sneak home to end decade-long wait
SOUTH WEST: Friday July 9th
The strength of Gloucestershire Golf was once again ably demonstrated at Salisbury & South Wilts this week where its U-18s won the EG South West Boys qualifier.
They edged out Devon on countback and will take their place in the county finals at Coxmoor in August alongside surprise finalists Leicestershire and Northumberland – both will be making their debut – and Essex, who haven’t qualified for seven years.
Remarkably Glouestershire last reached the England final in 2010 but changes made to their coaching and development structure a decade ago are really starting to bear fruit. This year the county has won the South West Championship across all the agegroups (U-18s/16s/14s) plus the men’s event.
It’s strength in depth was all too evident at the Wiltshire venue yesterday. In 16 rounds of golf – including those by the two reserves – Gloucestershire’s worst score was a seven-over-par 78.
U-18s manager Mark Powell said: “It was a fantastic team effort with every player contributing. Yes Milan Reed had an excellent round in the afternoon but our strength was the consistency of our scores. All eight players would have been in the top 25 in the individual standings.”
Reed from Long Ashton shot a three-under-par 68 after lunch but the late drama centred on his team-mate Ash Millington, who was the last Gloucestershire player out on the course.
With Devon in the clubhouse on 17 over, the 14-year-old from The Players Club needed to play the last three holes in two under for his county to finish top outright but one under would also suffice with the countback calculations working in his favour.
The sense his final few holes were pivotal would have been palpable for the youngster as all his team-mates plus players from other counties started following his game.
And the youngest member of the squad responded with birdies at 16 and 17 while he almost manufactured a brilliant up and down at the last for a par.
With the counties tied on 727, the winners were decided on who had the lowest sixth best score in the afternoon. With the best five-from-six contributing in each round, the spares were compared and Gloucestershire edged it 76 to 77.