Archive for July, 2008



Moving on…

What a weekend it was! England brought home the silver medals in the European Championships after falling short in the final against Ireland and there were a number of other English winners in the golf world. On the European Tour Ross Fisher won in style by 7 shots and on the Challenge Tour David Horsey won for the second time in three weeks. In the order of merit there are now two English players leading the way; Dave Horsey and Seve Benson. Big things happened also in women’s golf where two English players battled it out for the English Ladies Open title. Rebecca Hudson just beat Melissa Read thanks to a stunning last round 64.

This week it is time for the England Boys’ Team to put themselves to the test in the European Championships. I have asked the coach, Paul Ashwell to do a daily report and here is his summary of the first couple of days of practice;

European Boys Team Championship
Bled GC, Slovenia.
 
Practice Days; Sun 6- Mon 7 July

Please note we visited Bled for a training camp in April so the players already have some experience of the course. On our first practice day we had afternoon tee times so we used the morning for practice. This allowed for some one to one time with each player and to help with any concerns they may have. During the practice round we introduced a simple competitive element to encourage hitting fairways and greens; score a point for each. Then practiced lots of chipping and putting around the greens, playing to a variety of pin positions. The players were encouraged to add useful details to their Course Planner and begin to plan the best way to play each hole.

During the evening we held a team meeting where the players were reminded of their playing achievements to date and we outlined our goals for the week. Last year we won the Silver Medal and believe we can go one better this time. We see the event as three separate stages 1) Practice Days, 2) Stroke play, 3) Match play. Our intention is to complete each stage as well as we can and then re focus on the next stage.

During the second practice day we introduced a competition between our two three balls. First 6 holes; one score on each hole to count. Next 6 holes; two scores to count. Final 6 holes; all three score to count. In addition the players continued to refine their planners and game plans. The team are in good form and looking forward to the stroke play stage.

The Opening Ceremony took place on Tuesday evening.

Paul Ashwell, Lead Coach England U18`s.

If the live scoring is anything like last week it won’t be easy to follow the results but they are supposed to be updated on the following link http://www2.golfportal.info/gp3/frmCustomPage.aspx?CustomPageID=1.

If you are in need for some inspiration, why not have a look at this Youtube clip based on Rosevelt’s ‘The man in the arena’ from 1910.

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Ireland win the European Championship

England – Ireland 2.5-4.5

Singles:
Charlie Ford – Gareth Shaw 2/1
Chris Wood – Paul Cutler 3/2
Matt Haines – Niall Kearney 3/2
Sam Hutsby – Jonathan Caldwell a/s
Dale Whitnell 5/3 – Shane Lowry

(subject to confirmation of official scores)

1-1 after the foursomes

The playing field is level going into the singles in the afternoon;

Chris Wood and Sam Hutsby, England 2 holes – Gareth Shaw and Shane Lowry, Ireland

Steve Uzell and Dale Whitnell, England – Paul Cutler and Jonathan Caldwell, Ireland 3/1

England in the final!

England is through to the final of the European Championships and the England Captain, Jonathan Plaxton, continues his early morning reports (the Blackberry seems to work really well on the bus from the hotel!);

Friday – semi final day.

Once again an early hotel departure gave us no alternative but to have breakfast at the club given the 0630 hotel breakfast opening. Fortunately the golf club seem to serve 24/7. Charlie and Matt started well in their foursomes but having exchanged holes early on the 3 holes in a row lost mid round hurt too much and they ran out 4 and 3 losers. BUT Dale and Steve’s game was a very different story! Their resilience and determination carried them through in a game where France clearly played the better golf. It was clear to all that when France conceded the game we had won more than just 1 point.

Dale Whitnell in action

Dale Whitnell in action

You could write a book about the game but suffice it to say that France missed the fairway at 18 and were too aggressive whilst England played 2 solid shots on to the front apron. France were on a manhole cover bordering a water hazard and chose to play but took 2 to get on the green and then missed the putt so conceded.

In the afternoon we set off very strongly and were up in 4 and 1 down in one from the start. Chris and Charlie played fantastic and it seemed that Sam and Chris both benefitted from the lie in / being rested a.m. Both won in very different ways. Chris demolished Victor whilst Sam surrendered a 2 hole lead only to win 2 of the last 3 including the last where he holed from a bunker for an eagle whilst his opponent was on the green in 2 but missed. A french fightback was therefore thwarted. In fact none of our players lost their singles as Steve came back from 2 down to be a/s at the 20th and Matt a/s when the match was decided. It took only seconds for the news to travel the 550 yds that are the 18th hole!

A pleasantly early finish (7.00p.m) allowed us to eat at the club and get the 8p.m bus. At the hotel we staged a great team meeting (low key but clear and effective) with open discussion and a review of the day. We then talked about our plan for the final with reaffirmation of our strategy and some key thoughts in keeping with what had been agreed from the outset of the week. This has been our strength so far in that the players have listened and been receptive to almost all that has been said in our preparation. Some housekeeping ahead of the final day with closing ceremony and travelling day (Sunday) around the corner. Now we wait with anticipation!

Jonathan Plaxton

For some reason it seems like the scoring system is not updated more than after the morning foursomes and at the conclusion. I will instead try to do manual updates on this blog. Anyway, the so called live scoring can be found here:

http://www.golfbox.dk/livescoring/compDetails.asp?comp=%7B3814D890%2D0EBF%2D448C%2DAEFF%2D64DDA35CC345%7D&clubOnly=1&lang=1033

England sail through to the semifinal

As the European Championship continues in Turin, England Captain Jonathan Plaxton reports from yet another long day at the office;

Thursday
A 5.15 a.m bus for a 7.40 tee time. One or two snoring on the bus tells a story!
Both foursomes were very close (we won them – 1 up and at the 21st hole! Both games were up and down and came to the 17th  hole ( a strong par 4 hole)  level. A great bunker shot from Chris at 17 was then conceded and a birdie 4 at 18 could not be beaten by the Italians.
Charlie and Matt salvaged a half at 17 and when their opposition missed from 4 feet at the last it was across to the 1st tee again for sudden death. Good drives from both teams left around 90 yds to go with a 2 tier green backed by a bunker with a stream skirting the front. Italy 1st and 20 ft past. Matt then hit the flag full pitch and the ball fell back down the slope 40 ft away and 3 feet below the level on which the hole was. Charlie then lipped out but Italy left it short. At the 20th after good tee shots Italy hit the green form 180 ydsuphill but Charlie blocked well right and hit a tree. From an awkward lie in thick semi Matt played to 6 ft despite being short sided and the putt for a half was never in doubt with Charlie on the money!
At 21st Italy raced a putt and missed the return from 5 feet with a good swing and Matt holed from 3 feet to win. A great result in line with the other 3 qtr finals which all ended 2 – 0.
A very good lunch and brief team meet prepared us for the Italian fightback which came too late in the round as we hit more fairways and greens to maintain the pressure and lead in all but 1 game through first 6 holes.
Steve and Charlie delivered the 2 vital points whilst Dale and Sam were always in control and only a birdie birdie finish cost Sam. Chris showed signs of fatigue in letting a good lead slip away and with Sam lacking putting confidence it was time for them to have a lie in perhaps?
Modest celebrations followed and a TV interview for me given the coverage afforded Team Italy who were history!
A good pasta dinner and team meeting whilst others ate and then back on the last ****** bus again!
Great to have so many messages of support by text and e-mail as well as ball spotters who have been invaluable to us and others!!
Friday pairings –
Haines and Ford
Whitnell and Uzzell
Whilst in the afternoon Whitnell rests.
A slight surprise to be playing France who recovered from 0 – 2 against Scotland just like last year’s semi final result at Western Gailes!
JP

The CNN weather forecast for today talks about possible thunderstorms again so another day with suspended play is seems likely. I have been told the live scoring isn’t excellent but hopefully the organisers will put some more effort into covering the semifinals today. Follow the England’s progress on this link http://www.golfbox.dk/livescoring/compDetails.asp?comp=%7BCA4B059F%2DF226%2D4454%2DBA72%2DEEFDB4AE04CC%7D&clubOnly=1&lang=1033.

European Championships day 2

England make up some important ground on the second day, lead by a sizzling 65 from Chris Wood. When the qualifying was wrapped up today England finished in fourth position at 15 under par. The top 8 that will play for the medals in the first flight are:

Pos Name R1 R2 Holes Total
1 Scotland 349 349 F -22
2 Sweden 349 354 F -17
3 Germany 351 352 F -17
4 England 358 347 F -15
5 Italy 353 355 F -12
6 Spain 352 357 F -11
7 Ireland 353 366 F -1
8 France 349 373 F +2

England now face the home nation Italy in the quarterfinal and it will be interesting to see how the home crowds will be able to suport their side. Follow England’s progress on the below link:

http://www.golfbox.dk/livescoring/compDetails.asp?comp=%7B6BFE5126%2D807E%2D4A09%2DA48F%2D44BB8F45ABEB%7D&clubOnly=1&lang=1033

England Captain, Jonathan Plaxton reports from the two qualifying days:
Tuesday
A civilised start for all with nobody having to do the 0530 bus trip (that’s for tomorrow!) An overcast start and nothing like as hot as it has been. The debate about clean and place was resolved by a downpour at 6 a.m which resulted in a 1 hour and 15 minute delay. Little did we know then about just how long a day it would be. With Sam out first and Chris not far behind both birdied the first hole.  Another thunder storm at 6pm meant we all left the course and dinner would have to wait. Resumed at 7.30p.m and all but Steve Uzzell managed to complete. On a day of low scores England outside the top 8 and Flight A for the title. Much work to do but every confidence in each other and an air of calm and reassurance around us all in the team. Collapse into bed at around 11.30 with a 5 a.m start.

Wednesday
Apart from Matt and Dale all had to be on the 5.30 bus with play starting at 7.30 and 6 groups still to finish. A par and birdie from Steve meant more than just a one shot improvement of our team score as word spread around the team. With Sam starting quietly it was Chris who stole the show with a faultless round of 65 after a scrambled par at the 1st. This news spread and Sam’s back 9 of 32 for a 69 gave us even more impetus. Charlie’s 71 included a lost ball but gave us a third sub par round whilst others were going backwards. Another solid 70 from Matt Haines put us -13 for the first four of our 5 scores needed. Steve’s level par 72 meaning that Dale’s 74 would be discarded. A real pressure cooker situation in every sense of the words given our position overnight and the weather conditions! Our team spirit and the boys determination as well as talent shone through. Still Very hot and humid. I am getting through at least a bottle every 2 – 3 holes. At last a sensible finish time permitted dinner and a meeting before 10 so a relatively early night to bed at 10.30 but with a 4.45 start and a 5.15 bus to look forward to now that we are in the tournament for real. No doubt that all would be up on time and keen to play foursomes – Wood and Hutsby Ford and Haines Then in the afternoon Matt Haines is resting. We play the hosts – Italy whilst another clash between Spain and Germany is being talked up following the Euro 2008 football.
Now a test of mental (matchplay) ability as well as stamina and golfing talent. As we stand the players could not be better prepared in all respects so here we go!

 

European Championships

Preparations continue in Turin for the Tuesday start of the Championships. England Captain Jonathan Plaxton report;

Monday

An early start – 5 a.m for the 5.30 bus. Not much chat! With a 7.50 and 8.00 am tee time a team breakfast at the club (from 6.30) was agreed by all. The torrential rain of Sunday evening had made for very heavy conditions but no standing water evident as the course is criss crossed by streams and drains which collect the water from the mountains and fill the lakes. No standing water anywhere! A bonus when The Danes asked if we would go at 7.30 and 7.40 due to 3 of their players being on the 7a.m bus. Perfect conditions for target golf and the coolest part of what would be a very hot day. Format was medal with best 1 from 3 scores on holes 1 through 6 then 2 from 3 on holes 7 through 12 and all 3 to count for holes 13 through 18. After 9 holes Uzzell, Haines and Ford -10 with Wood, Hutsby and Whitnell at -8. After 17 it was Wood, Hutsby and Whitnell who held a 1 shot lead but 3 birdies by Uzzell, Haines and Ford resulted in them winning by 1.

A good lunch followed the morning work and after a couple of hours rest (whilst the Captains meeting took place)  we dressed to pose for the team photos under a threatening sky and with the sound of thunder nearby. Fortunately the band and teams paraded in the dry and with formalities over the players were taken by (Tim and Dave) back to the hotel with instructions to dine as a 6 man group on the eve of the tournament. Thank goodness for air con and a coach back to the hotel when, after some final checks on bus times and tee times it was time to crash out and set the alarms once more!

Live scoring is available from Turin on the following link: http://www.golfbox.dk/livescoring/tourlist.asp?cl=941&co=DK&yr=2008&clubOnly=1&lang=1033.

 


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