Yorkshire’s players held their nerve and drained the pressure putts required to fend off a charge from Wiltshire and earn the title of English Senior Men’s County champions.
On a nervy final day at Rothley Park in Leicestershire, captain Andy King and his team got over the line courtesy of a 5-4 victory against Kent. Wiltshire had cranked up the heat on the white rose county by earlier running out convincing 6-3 winners against Warwickshire.
However, Yorkshire had control of their own destiny and duly notched the win that guaranteed them their third title at this level in five years.
At the start of play Yorkshire, Wiltshire and Kent were in with a shout of winning the crown.
At one stage in the afternoon with Kent and Yorkshire heading for a draw and Wiltshire homing in on a win, the smallest county in the finals were daring to dream of a fantastic triumph.
However, Yorkshire came strong in the final hour of play and topped the table with two wins and a draw from their three matches – beating Wiltshire on day one, drawing with Warwickshire and then claiming victory over Kent.
Wiltshire – making their first ever appearance at the finals – played superbly to bounce back from the opening day loss to the eventual champions by winning their final two matches in the round robin series.
The glory, though, belonged to Yorkshire after three days of excellent competition. With each match comprising three morning foursomes and six afternoon singles, Yorkshire’s unbeaten form over the three days meant they deserved the title which follows on from wins in 2017 and 2019.
For King, the victory was sweet after days fretting on behalf of his entire squad and hitting every shot from the sidelines. He said: “It feels absolutely fantastic. Whoever designed or invented this golf event – big congratulations to them! The players have loved playing in it and we love coming to this stage and competing and we’ll be trying to get here again next year. I am proud of the players – sometimes you need the tail to wag and the lads at the end of the order did the business for us.”
Those players at the tail King referred to were Andy Woodhead, Steve Cain and Dave Sanby.
Woodhead was in tears after clinching a 3&2 win against Kent’s Danny Holmes while the smiles on the faces of Sanby (5&4 win against Bob Florence) and Cain (6&4 against Phil Judge) were from ear to ear.
Yorkshire took a 2-1 lead in the afternoon singles from the morning foursomes with the pairings of Ian Clarke and Woodhead and Ian Backhouse and Stephen East having put points on the board. That left them needing three points from six singles – duly delivered by Woodhead, Cain and Sanby.
For Wiltshire and their captain Nigel Phillips, it was a memorable week despite falling just short. They arrived here with the ambition of winning one of their matches. They left after posting two wins while Marlborough’s Jeremy Tomlinson finished the finals as leading points scorer with five and a half out of six.
Kent finished third in the table with one win to show for their efforts, while Warwickshire finished fourth with a draw and two losses.