Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club started their 2015 campaign in the Thornton Challenge Cup with a tight 8-7 win at Harwich and Dovercourt, with junior captain Alex English sealing the victory on his competition debut.
The Thornton Challenge Cup is the blue riband Essex County team competition, played with five foursomes matches in the morning and ten singles in the afternoon. The 2014 winners were Chelmsford.
The foursomes were played in atrocious conditions and it was a credit to both teams that the quality of golf was so high. At the turn Stoke were ahead in all the five matches, but a good fight back from Harwich saw Stoke lead 3-2 at lunch.
The winning Stoke pairs were Ian Younger and Alex Royce, English and Tom Everett, and Gerald Collins and Paul Chalmers. The results were encouraging as both Royce and English were making their Thornton Challenge Cup debuts.
The afternoon play started in better conditions on the well-prepared course. After nine holes Stoke were ahead in only two of the matches, and Harwich won the first three.
The hero of the day was English who was one up after 15 holes but then had to make a great ‘up and down’ from the left trap on 16 to halve the hole. On 17 Harwich holed a birdie putt from 25 feet to square the match and a play-off looked on the cards.
However English remained focused to par the 18th to win and take Stoke into the next round, where they will be away to Rochford Hundred GC.
The other singles winners were Younger, Joe Stevens, Ian Carter and Collins.