Home Nations Junior Club Championships
The Vale Resort junior golf team have just returned from Spain winning the Junior Team Golf Home Nations final held in Antequera.
The competition consists of the best junior golf teams from Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland.
The Vale Junior Team consisted of the following players;
Jack Wiggins Captain, (aged 16)
Ollie Brown (17)
Morgan Grace (16)
Ronan Oliver (15)
Ben Davies (15)
Grace Connelly (14)
Callaghan Smith (13)
Jordan Oliver (13)
The first two days golf consisted of pool games, that were decided from the previous nights draw.
The Vale played Uphall golf club from Scotland. We were off to a flying start with all the six main games won by the Vale. In the two reserve matches Callaghan Smith had a half and Jordan Oliver lost his match.
We played Burhill golf club, a very strong English side. The days golf proved a more slightly nervous affair, however the vale won 4 out of the 6 matches with the final results; Ben Davies winning 7 and 5, Grace Connelly winning 5 and 4 and Ollie Brown and Ronan Oliver winning one up. A tight match was lost on the last by Morgan Grace, and Jack Wiggins was hit by a very in form golfer, having several chip-ins to lose seven and five.
No other team had come close to our total points score over the two days. So this put us into the semi-final to play the Irish champions Kilkenny, who had brought a very large and experienced team with them.
The Vale and Kilkenny got off to a steady start, with some great shots and putts being made. As the matches progressed, we began to take charge in several of the games, with Oly winning 6 and 5, Morgan winning 5 and 4 and Ronan winning 3 and 2. However Jack’s match was a different affair, with the lead changing constantly throughout the day. Jack ended up one down going down the last hole. His opponent hit a stray shot right of the tee on this difficult par 3 into the wind. Jack took his opportunity and hit a brilliant tee shot within nine foot of the pin. Jack eventually came away with a deserved half giving the Vale the winning half point. Ben and Grace unfortunately lost their games 2 and 1.
The defeat of the Irish champions was a great boost for the final. I must say that the Kilkenny side were gracious in defeat and in fact, some great friendships were made. They went on to give us the support in the final – Thank you Kilkenny.
The Final saw the Vale up against the Scottish champions Murrayfield, who had also brought a very experienced team of junior golfers. The conditions on the final day were good, although there was a fair breeze blowing around the course.
I watched all six matches tee off on the first, and I don’t believe I saw one bad shot. The players were up for their games and I think the parents were more nervous than them.
Within a few holes, second out Grace had found herself a couple down, her opponent played some majestic golf and Grace battled hard, but eventually beating Grace 6 and 5. Oly Brown was out in the top match, both Oly and his opponent were playing some excellent golf, with birdies deciding on who would win or lose the hole. The game was nip and tuck with Oly eventually winning 1 up.
The third game out with Jack Wiggins was another affair, and Jack was back with a vengeance, he took an early lead. Morgan Grace who was in the fourth match out had played magnificent all week, and the game was going either way until the 15th hole, when Morgan hit an uncharacteristic stray shot into a bush. He managed to get the ball out onto the fairway, but it cost him the hole. Morgan eventually lost his match 2 and 1.
The back two matches of Ben Davies and Ronan Oliver were going to be key, and they didn’t disappoint. Ben had established an early two shot lead, and Ronan found himself 3 down around the turn.
Little did either player know how crucial their games would become, as the overall result at this stage could have gone either way.
As Ronan’s and Ben’s games progressed, Ronan began to fight back, from three down to all square, with very consistent irons and a red-hot putter.
By the time Ben and Ronan were around to the 16th hole the results were two points to the Vale and two points to Murrayfield. Both sets of supporters were feeling the tension.
Ben was one up on the par 3 16th, and hit a stray tee shot, forcing him to chip out to the side. He then made a magnificent chip shot over the bunker to within 3 feet of the pin. This was a huge putt to make under the circumstances, but he walked away with a half. Ben then found himself long with his approach shot on the 17th with his opponent on the green, but yet another superb chip over the length of the green gave Ben another halved hole. It was down to the 18th and with another halved hole we were three games to two.
It was all now down to Ronan, who must have had the world on his shoulders. This young golfer had fought back all match, and kept is composure as he headed into the last few holes. Ronan was one up coming off the 16th and with great shots and putts being made, he managed to remain one up heading for the 18th. Whatever happened now the Vale had the half point they needed. However call it pride, both players had different ideas and Ronan wanted the win.
Ronan hit what appeared to be a great shot to the green, but the wind picked up and his ball fell short in the hazard. His opponent went and hit his tee shot way right, catching a buggy and landing near shrubs. It took him six shots to hit the green. Ronan calmly walked back to the drop zone and hit a wedge to the green. He takes one putt and the game was conceded. The Vale had won four matches to two.
What a fabulous win for the Vale juniors.