Warwickshire: Men’s Matchplay Championship

Warwickshire matchplay champion Luke Allen (Olton)

Luke pushed all the way in thrilling finale

WARWICKS: Monday June 28th

There was an incredible finish to the Warwickshire Matchplay Championship where Olton’s Luke Allen managed to repel an inspired John Banbury to win his first county competition on the final green.

Luke, who was never behind in any of his three knockout ties at Handsworth, was three up with four to play in the 36-hole final but was pegged back as the Moor Hall player holed from 12 feet for a birdie on 15, sunk a 40-footer from off the green for another birdie at 16 to get it back to one down and then kept himself alive with a stunning up and down to halve the 17th.

At the 18th Luke found trouble with his drive and had to lay up on the par five before putting his third to 15 feet, which he then had to hole as his partner notched his third birdie in four holes.

Fortunately for Luke, the championship-winning, left-to-right putt found the centre of the cup and, having made the final for the first time, he collected his first major Warwickshire title.

“At the 15th I thought if I get four pars that should be enough but in fact it wouldn’t,” said the 25-year-old, who only qualified for the competition after Seb Cave chose to compete in the England U-18s instead. In last month’s strokeplay championship, Luke missed a short putt at the last and initially thought he was going to miss out on making the top eight on countback.

“In every match I managed to get ahead early but couldn’t ever shake off my opponents and it speaks to the quality of the competition that I was no worse than par in any of my matches but each time we went to the final green.”

In both his quarter-final and semi-final matches, the Olton man was two up with three to play.

In his last eight tie with Moor Hall’s Rob Bardsley, he went one up at the first by holing from off the green and sealed passage to the last four with a stunning eagle on the last. After a huge drive he put a “perfect” 8 iron to 10 feet and holed out to make it through by two holes.

Then he tackled Coventry junior Ryan Gavin and after going out of bounds on 16, Luke got himself back on track with a birdie at the next having put his approach to four feet. His opponent matched him – from eight feet – but again the Luke played the last superbly. This time he found the putting surface in two with a six iron but had to make the short birdie putt as Ryan holed from 15 feet for a four to keep the pressure on until the very last.

Quarter-finals
Josh Davenport (Maxstoke Park) lost to John Banbury (Moor Hall) 3&2
Sam Easterbrook (Wishaw) lost to Richard Bush (Coventry) 6&5
Rob Bardsley (Moor Hall) lost to Luke Allen (Olton) 2 holes
Ryan Gavin (Coventry) beat Karl Smith (Handsworth) 2&1
Semi-finals
Banbury beat Bush 19th hole
Allen beat Gavin 1 hole
Final
Banbury lost to Allen 1 hole