South West: Women’s EG County Qualifier

WE’VE DONE IT: Somerset celebrate winning the South West Counties Championship for the first time in 67 years

Ellen chips in to break Somerset’s 67-year drought

SOUTH WEST: Wednesday July 7th

Somerset today won the South West Counties qualifier for the first time since 1954 after an heroic effort from 15-year-old Ellen Reakes in the final match out on the course at Bristol and Clifton.

Going into the final round, any one of Gloucestershire (5pts from 3 matches), Somerset (5/3) and Dorset (4/3) had a chance to finish top of the table with the latter two meeting while the reigning champions took on winless Wiltshire.

The Somerset-Dorset battle came down to the final singles tie between Ellen (The Mendip) and Chloe Hasler (Broadstone) with both knowing a victory would give their county a chance of finishing top on the assumption Gloucestershire, champions in 10 of the last 11 years, were going to do likewise.

However as it turned out Wiltshire were in the process of pulling of a shock 3-2 victory which meant who qualified for the national finals in September rested on the Ellen-Chloe battle.

By the 17th their tie was all square with the 15-year-old debutant from Somerset having won the previous two holes. To add to the tension there was a long wait on the tee of the par three with heavy rain threatening to overwhelm the greens and officials struggling to clear the excess water.

Once action restarted, Ellen missed the target and her ball finished in the wet rough 10 yards from the pin. But she sent her watching teammates delirious as she chipped in for a birdie while her opponent could not get down in two. The shot effectively decided the outcome of the competition with events elsewhere working in Somerset’s favour.

“I was just trying to get it close,” said Ellen. “With it coming out of the wet rough I really didn’t expect that.”

Remarkably Ellen was only playing against Dorset because Somerset county champion Hannah Woodley had a Covid emergency and was forced to withdraw at the last minute.

At the par five 18th, Chloe still had an opportunity to halve the tie and and the overall match while Ellen was desperate to win because she was blissfully unaware of what was happening to Gloucestershire.

After both players missed the green with their third shots, Ellen chipped to inside three feet and, with Chloe missing her par putt, knew she had two for it but still felt the nerves.

“I was shaking stood over the putt and just didn’t want to race it past,” added Ellen, who was the youngest member of her team.

Fortunately for the Somerset teenager the ball dropped and with the surprise news finally filtering through from the other match, the new champions avoided the countback heartache which hurt them two years ago.

Alysia Rees (Burnham and Berrow), who was co-captaining Somerset along with her clubmate and county captain Gill Brown, said: “This means everything. We came so close two years ago at Woodbury, that to win it in Gloucestershire is the icing on the cake.”

In the foursomes against Dorset, Farrington Park’s Frankie Dezis and Jess Haines (Burnham & Berrow) won their fourth successive tie while England Girls squad member Davina Xanh (Mendip Springs) remained unbeaten for the week as she won the top singles match.

Somerset squad: Hannah Woodley (Enmore Park), Davina Xanh (Mendip Spring), Jade Cope (Weston-Super-Mare), Frankie Dezis (Farrington Park), Jess Haines (Burnham & Berrow), Abby Gray (Wells), Amelia Matthews (Farrington Park), Lizzie Stephens (Mendip Spring), Ellen Reakes (The Mendip)

Final standings*
1) Somerset W3, D1, L0, F12, 7pts
2) Gloucs W2, D1, L1, F11, 5pts
3) Dorset W2, D0, L2, F11, 4pts
4) Wiltshire W1, D0, L3, F8, 2pts
5) Devon W1 D0 L3, F7.5, 2pts
*Cornwall did not enter a team because of Covid
Results – Day One 
Dorset 3, Wiltshire 2
Devon 1, Somerset 4
Dorset 4, Devon 1
Gloucs 2.5, Somerset 2.5
Day Two
Devon 2, Gloucs 3
Wiltshire 1.5, Somerset 3.5
Wiltshire 1.5, Devon 3.5
Dorset 2, Gloucs 3
Day Three
Somerset 3, Dorset 2
Wiltshire 3, Gloucs 2