NORTH EAST golfers Guy Henderson and Neil Sanderson have scored a real first by becoming the first duo to successfully defend the Golf North East Gents Match Play Pairs title. And in the Mixed Final, Steve Slater, a former Golf North East Gents Match Play Pairs champion, and his partner Nikki Toman (City of Newcastle) beat Joan and Malcolm Short (Saltburn Golf Club) to secure their place on the super Algarve tournament week.
Eaglescliffe Golf Club duo Guy and Neil have now won 15 consecutive matches throughout 2007 and 2008, resulting in Jill, Neil's wife stating: "There has to be two golfers in the North East capable of beating Neil and Guy!"
Clearly, she is a golfing widow and hoping that her husband and his partner will soon meet their match and normal family life can be resumed.
Their opponents in the final this year, Sean Jackson and Neil McLachlan from Magdalene Fields at Berwick, looked to be more than a match but as everyone knows, golf is a great leveller and nothing can be taken for granted.
In the last month's issue of Golf North East, we featured the semi-finals, which were staged at South Shields Golf Club, and we reported that Guy and Neil were not firing on all cylinders - but that wasn't the case in the final; they had both clearly been in for a service!
Although Sean birdied the 1st, Guy, with a shot, equalled the score and took the hole with a nett eagle. With the low handicappers going for the green at the short par 4 2nd, the hole was won by Neil with a steady par - a great match play hole and a lesson for those who think that power will deliver a result - 2 up to Eaglescliffe.
The 3rd was halved in par and then Guy launched a brilliant tee shot at the par 4 4th, finding the green and leaving a five-foot putt for eagle. Sean also found the green and although he made birdie, Guy sank his putt for eagle and another win. By this time the Mag Fields team had to steady the ship and Sean's solid golf over the next two holes certainly achieved that.
The 7th was halved in par and another at the 8th reduced the deficit to two. With Neil losing his ball at the 9th and Guy in the rough on the right, Mag Fields appeared to be in control, but anything can happen in golf and Guy's approach can only be described as a perfect links under-the-wind punch or a fluky miss-hit and definitely not in teaching manuals - but it ended up just eight feet from the pin. He failed to convert and Eaglescliffe started the back nine 2 up.
Both the 10th and 11th were halved in par and at the 12th, Neil from Eaglescliffe fired a huge drive down the right side of the fairway and following an accurate pitch to three foot - yes another nett eagle! The score remained the same at the 13th, halved in par and then onto the par 5 14th, where Guy's tee shot found the semi rough on the left. He didn't go for the green and following a sensible second, his accurate chip secured another birdie and a four-hole lead.
The writing was on the wall and with both Neils making 4 nett 3s at the 15th, the Eaglescliffe team finished five under gross through 15 holes and won the match 4&3 - a magnificent performance.
And in the mixed final, Nikki and Steve from the City of Newcastle were up for the task and with Nikki's nett birdie 3, followed by two birdies at the 2nd and 3rd from Steve, they were 3 up after three holes. From that point, Joan played very well and using her shots, she managed to peg the City team back, halving the 4th, winning the 6th and 7th and with Malcolm's par at the 5th and a 5 nett 4 at the 9th, this match concluded the front nine all square.
Another cracking birdie two at the 10th from Steve secured the lead was followed by a half at the 11th. The couple from Saltburn made a mess of the 12th, an easy win to go 2 up and then the match was won on the 13th.
Joan's great tee shot to three feet looked to have won the hole but Nikki is a fighter - from over thirty feet she sank her putt and the hole was halved in two. With the wind taken out of their sails, the Shorts lost the next two holes to par, and the match finished with a 4&3 victory in favour of Nikki and Steve.
The presentation ceremony was hosted by Gillian Corney from Golf North East together with Close House Golf Manager John Glendinning. Congratulations to our 2008 Match Play Champions and we wish Guy, Neil, Steve and Nikki the very best of luck as they jet off to the sun in their quest of winning further great prizes in our Algarve Invitational Tournament 2008.
Acknowledgements: Close House Golf & Country Club, South Shields Golf Club, Srixon UK and Northumbria Water. PAUL CORNEY Route to the Final: Gents: Magdalene Fields: Elder & Dunn lost to Jackson & McLachlan 2&1; Jackson & McLachlin beat Hall & Allen 20th hole; Jackson & McLachlan beat Cushing & Watson 1up; Jackson & McLachlan beat Haefner & Dobson 2&1; Jackson & McLachlan beat Millar & Palmer 4&3; Jackson & McLachlan beat Haddrall & Handy 5&3; Jackson & McLachlan beat Malo & Janes 3&2. Eaglescliffe: Henderson & Sanderson beat Moore & Taylor 1up; Henderson & Sanderson beat McCluskey & Davidson 2&1; Lawler & Liddle lost to Henderson & Sanderson 3&2; Parker & Nickless lost to Henderson & Sanderson 5&3; Harding & Worthy lost to Henderson & Sanderson 3&2; Henderson & Sanderson beat Mabin & Hind 1up. Mixed: City of Newcastle: Hannon & Hannon lost to Slater & Toman 3&2; Slater & Toman beat Sanderson & Hutchinson 2&1; Slater & Toman beat Kennedy & Kennedy 3&2; Slater & Toman beat Taylor & Taylor match conceded; Ellison & Walby lost to Slater & Toman 5&4. Saltburn-by-the-Sea: Hart & Davison lost to Short & Short 19th hole; Catt & McMullan lost to Short & Short 1 down; Short & Short beat Hartley & Hartley 7&6; Short & Short beat Burnip & Burnip 19th hole; Finals: Gents: Henderson & Sanderson beat Jackson & McLachlan 4&3. Mixed: Slater & Toman beat Short & Short 4&3.