The East Riding Union of Golf Clubs’ Match-play Championship final was played at the Ganton Golf Club on Tuesday 28th August.
Conditions were ideal, overcast skies with barely a breath of wind when the match between East Riding veteran Alan Wright (58) of Hessle and East Riding new boy Steve Lynch (32) of Boothferry teed off. Alan’s caddie for the day was Charlie Fountain and Steve had Boothferry’s rising star Dan Gibson to assist him. It was good to see numerous spectators following the match with a 20 strong contingent from the Boothferry Club.
Both players began with good drives down the 369 yard 1st hole but after Steve failed to find the green in two, Alan’s par 4 was good enough to give a one-hole lead. Neither hit the fairway with their drives down the second hole and when Alan found himself in deep rough to the left of the green after his second, a bogey 5 was good enough for Steve to level the match. After halving the 3rd hole in par, Alan won the 4th with par when Steve found himself in deep rough with his drive. The lead was gifted back when Alan, uncharacteristically, three putted the short 5th. After halving the 6th in par, Alan quickly moved into a commanding 4-hole lead with Steve’s erratic driving finding either Ganton’s notorious deep rough or cavernous bunkers whilst Alan birdied the 9th and 10th. Following a fairway splitting 3-wood down the 11th, Alan mishit his 185 yard second into a bunker short of the green and although Steve also had bunker trouble on the same hole, his bogey 5 was good enough to get one hole back. Over the next four holes, players matched score for score so by the 16th tee Alan still had a 3-hole lead. Steve managed to win the 16th with par to reduce the deficit to 2 holes. The 17th was halved in 4’s but on the 18th Steve found himself again in deep rough by the green whilst, Alan had hit a magnificent iron shot to within a few feet of the hole. Following a penalty drop and a good chip Steve still had no option but to concede the hole and give Alan a 3 hole advantage after the first round.
By the beginning of the afternoon round the breeze had picked up to make conditions somewhat more testing. The opening hole found Steve back in the deep rough and with Alan playing the hole majestically to record yet another birdie he had resumed a 4-hole lead. The 2nd hole again proved difficult with both unable to find the green in regulation and scoring bogey 5’s. The 3rd found Steve in yet another bunker from his drive but his sand shot out finished within a couple of feet of the pin and he reduced Alan’s lead to 3. On the 4th hole, both players hit great drives but again the struggled to find the green in regulation. Steve managed to hole-out a lengthy putt to save par and when Alan missed again from short range his lead was reduced to 2 holes. The players matched each other par for par over the next three holes. Following two great drives down the 8th, Steve’s shot to within 4 foot resulted in a birdie, he had reduced Alan’s lead to 1 hole. It now looked like an exciting finish was about to unfold but Alan was resolute and when he hit a long iron to within 6 feet of the hole at the 500 yard par 5 ninth hole, his class and experience were there for all to see, especially when he went on to birdie the par 3 10th and re-establish a 3 hole lead. When Steve found a bunker again on the 11th things looked ominous but he scrambled a half when again Alan missed a putt from short range.
Steve seemed to have the advantage on the dog-leg 12th having hit a great tee shot, whilst Alan had to take a penalty drop from the gorse. Steve’s subsequent approach shot was woefully short, only just finding the front edge of the green from which he proceeded to three putt. Alan had hit a wonderful recovery shot following his penalty and holed out for a par four so restoring his 4 hole lead. Steve just could not avoid the sand again down the long par 5 13th and again gifted yet another hole to Alan to give him a 5 hole lead with 5 holes to play. Down the 14th, both players were bunkered but then, with both hitting great recovery shots, Steve managed to hole his putt for birdie it kept him still in the game. Alan again found bunker trouble down the 15th so a par for Steve was good enough to give him hope but this was not to be when Alan conjured up a birdie 3 down the difficult 16th hole to win the match by 4 holes up with 2 to play.
After the post match dinner in the Ganton Clubhouse the players and East Riding Executive were warmly welcomed by Mr. Peter Kirk, Captain of Ganton. Mrs. Julie West (Lady Captain of Ganton) and her husband Chris West of Bridlington Building Supplies, sponsors of the Match-play Championship event. Bridlington Building Supplies were thanked by the East Riding Union President, Mr. Andy Woodhead who then presented the winners salver to Alan Wright. This was Alan’s third victory in the Match-play Championship with him previously winning in 1998 and 2017.