The Final of the 2003 Warwickshire Cup
David Morgan - Tuesday, 1 April, 2003
We never did what you have to do in foursomes - keep it in play , said the 2002 TP Cooke Matchplay Champion Chalkley as he and his partner lost 6&4 as Handsworth finished them off with a birdie at the 14th - what was to become a crucial hole.
In Match 2, Mike Calvert and Sam Hufton haven t lost in 3 seasons in this competition and they were in no mood to do so again. They ran out 3&2 winners against Malcolm Sherwood and Dave Westwood.
So to Match 3 and on the 14th Tee, David Fleet and Copt Heath Captain Neville Furber were 3 up against John Crawford, County 2nd Team Captain and his partner Jak Hamblett, soon to defend his Warwickshire Schools Championship. When they found the green in two and Handsworth could only chip to the edge for three, the match should have been all over. Copt Heath had a 35 ft two putt to be at the very worst 3 up with four to play - more likely dormie. Fleet and Furber were playing as good golf as any pairing from either side, it would have surely meant the Trophy returning (for the third time) to Dorridge. Their first putt was 8ft past and Handsworth could not hole from 15ft so Neville Furber had the first of a number of putts which he struck really well.
It missed though so onto 15 and Hamblett halved the distance to the flag after the Copt Heath approach. That putt went in for a birdie - Copt Heath 2 up with three to play. The 16th is a par 5 where the gamble option offers many birdies. Copt Heath could not take on the lake in front of the green whilst Handsworth were close to one of the huge old trees on this part of the course which left Crawford needing height and length to carry just short of the green side bunkers.
His young partner chipped to 6ft from a muddy lie whilst Copt Heath were short but Furber hit another great long putt and only just missed. Handsworth never looked like making their shorter putt so it was now Dormie 2 - and far from over.
Clubbing the 17th, across the lake to the top tier, is very difficult. John Crawford though he had hit too much club when his ball failed to stick on the back of the green but it ran up the bank then back down to 4 ft from the pin. Furber didn t have any return from the back slope. He had chosen one club too many leaving an impossible chip to leave close - but Copt Heath nearly holed from 30ft to put pressure on Handsworth. Dormie 1.
Both teams hit great drives on the 18th. Handsworth went for the green and came up 20ft short to a front pin, a very difficult chip. Copt Heath laid up further back and wedged to 20ft, a putt which Furber again ran very close. He knew he had to hole that shot as Hamblett had played a wonderfully delicate shot to no more than 2ft - another birdie and onto extra holes.
Hole 1 was halved in par after a slight advantage to Copt Heath. On Hole 2, David Fleet played an incredible approach putt from up the length of the green to ensure more extra holes. At the next, Hamblett put Handsworth no more than 10ft away yet Furber came very close with his putt from 30ft and when John Crawford saw his birdie putt hit the back of the hole and jump out, it was on to the short by tricky 4th, a downhill par three.
Hamblett hit a perfect shot to 12ft let of the flag. It was then Fleet s turn and with a smooth swing, he struck the ball slightly at the right of the green. Whether it was adrenaline from the occasion, or a wrong club, the Copt Heath ball flew to the back of the green and kept going. From the bottom of a bank behind the green, Copt Heath had two goes to try and get the ball close but failed leaving Handsworth as new Champions.
It all turned on the 14th , said Furber post presentation by the Sponsors of the competition, the Warwickshire Golf Club s management Blair Fotheringham, We were missing a couple of players and had to juggle the team - we had welcomed back Peter McEvoy but he is away in Norway - but all credit to Handsworth. I was very impressed with Jak (Hamblett) and the match was played in great spirit.
Final comments were from Karl Smith, the very proud Handsworth Scratch Team Captain -
We were happy for a home draw in the semis having lost twice away in the past 2 years - I am always happy for a home draw, especially in foursomes. The Team was promoted to Division I last year (in the Birmingham Summer Leagues). Nick Clifford joining has made a big difference and Jak .... in the last couple of years he has become so solid. Jak and John (Crawford) were never going to beat themselves.
The substantial Warwickshire Cup now rests in the Handsworth Club House for the next year!