Portrush retain trophy in thriller at Prince's
What a fantastic couple of days the Season 3 Final turned out to be. It certainly didn't disappoint and its success was down to the brilliant spirit all 16 finalists displayed in the time we spent together. As we mentioned last year, picking two teams that have no natural identity is never easy - Portrush and Troon were just 2 names we hung our hats on a year ago. It needs 2 teams to gel together and form their own identity and it's incredible how quickly this happens all in the name of the game we love. It's no coincidence that two great teams were led by two fantastic captains. Both Glyn Andrews and Mark Attwell played and led the final exactly as we hoped and this made everyone's experience all the more memorable.
The two teams came together on a sunny Thursday morning and after receiving a bumper goody bag and their team caps and bag tags, the two captains said a few welcoming words. It was then on to the team photos before the final could get under way in earnest.
The first round was betterball matchplay - this year played across the challenging but stunning Himalayas and Shore nines. It proved an incredible day with 3 of the 4 matches going down 18! In the top match our last minute call up Dave Cooksley along with Jon Crickmore proved too strong for Gavin Featherstone and Leon Loberman winning 3&2 and providing the first point for Portrush. Our captains' match proved the highlight of the day. It was incredibly close throughout with never more than 1 hole in it. On the 18th Glyn put himself in a great position to close out the match with a putt of no more than 5-6ft whilst Lee Corns was some distance away with his putt. But rather than force a win, Glyn felt the match was so good that no one deserved to lose and he walked over to Lee and shook his hand for a half. It was a superb piece of sportsmanship, probably the best we have seen in the 3 years of Linksnet, and it summed up what a great sportsman Glyn is.
The third and fourth matches also proved really tight. Carol Brown and Derek Bird put in a great performance against the strong pairing of Forbes Cutler and Dave Woods. Forbes unfortunately missed a putt on the 18th to give Carol and Derek the win and the point for Troon. Troon completed another win in the final match as Mike Pickering and Neil McRae won 1 up against Karen Scott and Brian Lodge, making the score at the end of day one - Portrush 1.5 Troon 2.5. So there was certainly all to play for in the singles.
Day two saw the wind pick up making it a challenging singles round across the Shore and Dunes. Portrush set the scene for the day however with a big 5&4 win for Jon Crickmore over Neil McRae to bring the scores level 2.5-2.5. Troon however regained the lead as Leon Loberman beat Brian Lodge 4&2 despite a spirited fightback late on from Brian.
The top two matches were close. Captain Glyn held a monster putt on 17 to close out a 2&1 win over Mike Pickering to ensure Portrush took the lead for the first time that day 3.5-2.5. Dave Woods just pipped Derek Bird to the post winning 1up on 18 to make it 4.5-2.5 to Portrush. Karen Scott then got the better of Carol Brown 2&1 to put Portrush within 1 point of retaining the trophy.
And of course man of the moment Dave Cooksley, who didn't know he would be playing the final until Tuesday afternoon, completed his week by defeating a very strong Lee Corns 1up on 18 to get the all important winning point for captain Glyn who like the rest of his team were delighted with Dave!
Forbes Cutler and captain Mark Attwell finished all square whilst Gavin Featherstone won 1up against Carl Greenwood making the final score Portrush 7 Troon 5. Well done to Mark Attwell who was a fantastic captain and a great opponent for Glyn. At the prize giving it was clear that winning wasn't the 'be all and end all'. As the 16 finalists chatted away sharing stories of the two days, strong friendships had obviously been made. And when the golf stops and the last pin flag has been put back in it's hole, that's really what Linksnet is all about - making lasting friendships, networking and having fun whilst playing some great competitive golf. Thank you to all our sponsors and especially Golf Escapes who's amazing 5 nights holiday at Costa Navarino Resort in Greece was won by Brian Lodge!
Well done everyone, until next time!
NTP Day 1 - Lee Corns NTP in Two Day 2 - Mike Pickering NTP Day 2 - Gavin Featherstone NTP in Two Day 2 - Mark Attwell Player of the Tournament Portrush - Dave Cooksley Player of the Tournament Troon - Lee Corns Golf Escapes Costa Navarino Holiday Winner - Brian Lodge SEASON 3 WINNERS - PORTRUSH! For a breakdown of all the scores click here For all the photos from the final click here