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Ulster Cup 3rd round V Bangor GC, 1st leg report

Another Sunday another Ulster Cup match, this time at home in the 3rd round verses Bangor GC.

 Continuing the policy of squad rotation a couple of old war horses were given a deserved bit of R&R and newbee Geordie Moore was drafted into the starting line-up.

 Team: Danny Montgomery, George Moore, David Harrison, Michael Carson, Sam Milligan, Paul Banford and Gary McShane.

 At the 3rd/5th tee, it was apparent that these matches were destined to be tighter than the 2nd round, up in 3, down in 2 and 2 all square. Geordie was out on his own against a player + caddie, he looked a pensive, lonely but determined figure and stood on the 5th tee all square, history was again being made as Gary reached the 5th and wasn’t 4 up !!!

Sammy and Paul were struggling, lack of sandwiches, balls flying over the heads and the quality of the opposition were having their toll. The usual suspects at the head of the team were a couple up, but it was still “early doors”.

 At the 9th tee, the Butcher (original) informed the Team Captain that he was now 4 down, having slipped to 3 down after 6, as I was half way thro a silent prayer, Butch came clean and confirmed that he had in fact won the 7th and 8th and was now only 1 down.

 After 9, Geordie having come to terms with his first time nerves and opposition had got his nose and a bit more in front, and we were up in the first 4 matches, Sammy had slipped to 3 behind, Paul had won the 9th to go all square and Gary who seemed to be engaged in a titanic struggle was again all square.

After 12 Danny had run up another couple of holes, Geordie and Davy had maintained their lead, but the Doc had slipped a couple, on the plus side Sammy had rallied and won 10, 11 and 12 (the wee beaut) to go all square, and the Butcher and Gary were also all square, at this stage a slip or bad hole or bit of bad luck could have a big bearing on the final result.

 At the outpost beside the 16th tee the runners brought news of Danny’s 5&3 victory, Geordie had slipped to 1 up, Davy (after clarification of a misunderstanding) was 2 up, Michael was 1 up, Sammy and Paul were all square but Gary had slipped to 2 down with 3 to play.

 If I’m honest, proceedings around the 16th and 17th have become a bit of a blur, I can only claim old age, nerves and lack of drink have some bearing. If memory serves me right Geordie hit a perfect tee shot on the 16th and won the hole to go dormy 2 up, Davy(/id) hit a peach won the hole and adjourned to the bar with a 3&2 victory, Michael won the 16th to go Dormy 2 up, Sammy was all square, Paul somewhere between the 16th & 17th went 1 up. Geordie and Michael won the 17th to end up with a pair of victories 3&1.

 Gary, bless him, was abandoned by all but a few of the multitude as a “lost cause” and attention was directed to the 18th where the results of Sammy and Paul where eagerly awaited, when the jungle drums reported that Gary had holed a 35ft putt on the 16th to remain 2 down with 2 to play (by the end of the day this putt had lengthened to 70 or 80ft).

 And so to the final hole, 4 matches won, and at least a half from the Butcher. With a crowd around the green reminiscent of the Open, Sammy with a mixture of bunker and Captain’s Day pin position fell just short but showed grit and determination around the back nine and lost 1 down, the Butcher again lost the 18th to halve his match, his partner hitting a putt which he could no doubt sell for a small fortune on Captain’s Day.

 Matches 4.5 – 1.5.

 Looking back up the hole, Gary and his opponent seemed to be moving in a sufficiently un-relaxed manner to suggest that they were still in the throngs of battle, had Gary won the 17th? Both stopped at the fairway bunker, it surely meant the match was still alive, which one had caught the bunker? In stepped Gary to play his shot, a couple of waggles, a swing of arms, a puff of sand and a few seconds later, his ball bounced on the right of the green only to spin and settle on the apron; where was his opponents ball? The answer is that it was also in the same bunker. All waited for the result of the subsequent sand shot but at first no indication of where the ball finished was apparent, when it was spotted in the first cut of rough just shy of the shuck (sp?), then to his 3rd shot which he shot right at the flag and it settled a couple of feet to the left of the green in the rough. Could Gary get down in 2? No easy task. Surely the Bangor player wouldn’t chip in? Cometh the hour cometh the man and Gary putted to 1.5ft - no concession. Up stepped Bangor with a chip out of the rough, what seemed like an age passed as the ball trickled towards the hole eventually missing by millimetres and finishing a foot past – concession. Then to Gary “John Wayne” McShane, with True Grit, to nonchalantly putt the ball home, win the hole and halve the match.

 So now we stand 5 – 2 up with a 13 hole advantage after the first leg, the return this Sunday at Bangor First Tee-off 12:30.