South West: Inter-Counties Matchplay Shield

CHAMPIONS AGAIN: 2021 South West champions Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire joy after final-green drama

SOUTH WEST: Monday June 14th

There was a thrilling finale as Gloucestershire won the South West Inter-Counties Matchplay Shield but not before the outcome hinged on two putts on the final green in the final match on the final day at Burnham & Berrow GC.

In the four previous rounds Devon had established a 100% record and had the advantage as they took on the eventual winners in a classic winners-takes-all showdown. The previous day unbeaten Gloucestershire had drawn with host county Somerset so knew only a victory (1.5pts) would be enough.

And after the morning singles finished 4-4, the destination of the shield came down to the foursomes match between Devon’s Lewis Beer (Exeter) and Eliot Baker (Tiverton) and Jake Phillips (Cotswold Hills) and Lansdown’s Ed Butler, who has lead the scoring at the EG qualifier earlier in the week.

The results of the other three foursomes meant Phillips and Butler had to win their match to give their county the title while the Somerset duo knew a halve would be enough.

The players were notified of the overall situation as they played 17 while their match was A/S and step forward the 29-year-old Cotswold Hills golfer, who holed a 25-footer on 17 to win the hole.

“Funnily enough I had had a similar putt in the morning match so knew the break,” said Jake. “It was into the wind so I gave it a good bosh and it caught the left edge and went in.”

With the rest of the respective squads all waiting at the 18th, Jake’s enormous tee shot put his partner in a great position on the final hole.

“Previously when I had played 18 it was a drive and a 6 iron,” said the Cotswold Hills player. “It was slightly downwind but it’s fair to say the adrenaline was flowing because Ed had a 54 degree wedge in. He had about 120 yards to the front.”

The experienced Lansdown member stuck his approach to the middle of the green and then gave clear instructions to his partner.

“As we were walking towards the green Ed just said to me ‘Jake, I don’t want to have to putt’. He knows I play better when there is more on it.”

With Devon to putt first and missing, the reigning champions – they won it 2019 and last year was cancelled due to Covid – had two putts to retain the shield.

“I was putting back towards our guys and just thought of the dustbin lid thing,” said Jake. “There was a moment’s pause after it finished about a foot away but as soon as they said ‘pick it up’ our team charged on to the green and there were lots of high fives.”

In the morning Jake had gone out in the lead match, beating Warren’s Sam Dunn on the 18th while Gloucestershire county champion Nick Day (Henbury) beat Torquay’s Craig Passmore in the next.

However the Devon middle order really delivered and they took the next four ties only for Butler to claim match No 7 and 17-year-old debutant Josh Millington won the final singles 4&3.

In the afternoon, Devon got off to a brilliant start with Sam Dunn (Warren) and Jack Pope (Exeter) seeing off the Henbury pair Day and Calum Mortimore 5&4 but in the bottom match Thomas Workman (Stinchcombe Hill) and Millington won by the same scoreline over Fred Bishop (Exeter) and Ben Sclater (Warren).

With the other match being halved it was then time for the last Gloucestershire pairing to have the final say.

SW Inter-Counties Match Play Shield results – Round 5 
Devon 6.25, Gloucs 7.75
Dorset 4, Wiltshire 10
Cornwall 7.75, Somerset 6.25
Round 4
Wiltshire 7, Cornwall 7
Somerset 7, Gloucs 7
Devon 11, Dorset 3
Round 3
Somerset 3.5, Devon 10.5
Dorset 6, Cornwall 8
Gloucs 9.25, Wiltshire 4.75
Round 2
Dorset 9.5, Somerset 4.5
Wiltshire 6.5, Devon 7.5
Gloucs 10.5, Cornwall 3.5
Round 1
Gloucs 8.5, Dorset 5.5
Cornwall 4.75, Devon 9.25
Wiltshire 7.25, Somerset 6.75
SO CLOSE: Runners-up Devon