Photo finish in Picture match

What a difference a week makes. From the bitter disappointment of last week when Bob Welsman and Mick Baden lost their matches in the finals of the Challenge Cup and the Seniors’ Knockout Cup, this week they roared back to claim the Sidmouth Golf Club Men’s Open along with their other team members Neil Bunting and Colin Macklin, writes John Rockey.

The Men’s Open is a four-man team medal event off three-quarters handicap with two scores to count on each hole and was won this year with a 20 under par score of 112.

To achieve such a magnificent total, at least one player in the team has to be on fire and with six birdies Neil Bunting had a personal score of five under par. However, the team required two scores to count so his more senior colleagues, with their generous handicaps, had to take it in turn to assist him in beating off all opposition by four clear shots.

Second, on 16 under par 116, was a fancied team - this year’s Challenge Cup winner David Pepperell and recent winner of his first senior competition Mark Thomas who teamed up Neil Faulkner and Paddy Tallon

Third, and never out of the prizes this year in any club team event, were Kevin Legg and Roy Turner who were joined in the team by Eric McMath and Chris Hazlewood.

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Starting early in the morning, Kevin and his team had finished well before the top two teams started in the afternoon and must have felt that they had done enough once again to win.

However, this time it was not to be and they narrowly lost second place on countback.

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Having played the first round of the Picture Match against East Devon Golf Club at home earlier in the season, Sidmouth Golf Club took a 14-10 points advantage to Budleigh Salterton on Sunday, but ended up losing by the narrowest of margins 25-23 after a nailbiting, rollercoaster of a day, writes John Rockey.

In conditions which were extremely difficult, with strong winds and heavy showers, Sidmouth were soon up against it in the morning foursomes and lost 6-2, leaving them level overall 16-16 - and there was all to play for.

The afternoon singles went to East Devon by 9- 7, which gave them a 15-9 point win for the day and an overall victory to retain the Picture by just two points 25-23.

First off were Devon County Captain Neil Holland partnering Damion Gee who gave Sidmouth a promising start to the day by halving their match against a very strong East Devon pair.

However, the early start, coupled with the rain and wind proved tricky for the next three pairs of Stuart Coles/Nathan Brace, Terry Jones/Neil Bunting and Nick Gingell /Mike Knight who all lost. Team captain Paul Hitchcock with partner Ian Bright briefly stopped the slide by getting a half and, to brighten a very dull morning, Mark Thomas and Paddy Tallon got Sidmouth’s only win of the morning. The last two pairings of Pat McCormack with David Pepperell, and Nick Bater with Michael Anderton both lost which meant that, at lunchtime, the sides were drawing at 16-16.

Paul Hitchcock must have had strong words of encouragement with the team during lunch, because in the afternoon singles the early matches saw Sidmouth take back the lead. Neil Holland halved the first match which required him to make six birdies, followed by a half from Damion Gee with Stuart Coles making it a hat-trick of halved matches.

To bring a smile to the Sidmouth supporters hiding under their umbrellas, Nathan Brace got the first win of the afternoon. However, East Devon came back strongly to win the next three matches when Nick Gingell, Terry Jones and Neil Bunting all lost. Not to to be outdone, Sidmouth won the next three. In-form Mark Thomas started this fightback by winning his match, his second win of the day, followed by wins from Ian Bright and team captain Paul Hitchcock. At this stage, Sidmouth were still in the lead by one point and this was maintained when Mike Knight managed a well-deserved half in his closely- fought match. The advantage remained with Sidmouth after the next two matches because, whilst Pat McCormack lost his game, Paddy Tallon came back to cancel this setback with a good win and notch up his second success of the day.

With East Devon Golf Club being the holders of the Picture, Sidmouth had to make sure that they did not lose more than one of the last three matches to take the coveted Picture back over the hill to the Sidmouth Club House.

Try as they might, Michael Anderton, Nick Bater and David Pepperell couldn’t quite get the points needed and all eventually lost their very close matches.

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