THE Sunkist Winter League got under way last Saturday and saw defending champions John Meehan and Dale Wilcock light the blue touch paper and stand back as Dave Kneen and Gary Conwell went off like a rocket.
Kneen was four-under gross after seven holes which led to a 7 and 5 win and last year’s winner’s hopes going up in smoke.
Tony Corrin and Bryn Jones beat Martin Redmayne and new man Chris Pogue 5 and 4. Jones, who had the hot putter, said ‘they struggled through’ - if that’s struggling then it makes them favourites for this year’s title!
Dave Dow sadly stepped down this year quoting the league had lost its competitiveness so Eric Drinkwater fielded new partner Tony Potts who started his winter league debut with a birdie on the 1st. Unfortunately, this was too little, too soon as steady play from Bill Denard and George McArdle saw them take the points 4 and 3. Neil Thomas and Barry Firth were no match for the new pairing of Steve Meehan and Greg Galloway following the recent sad loss of Tom Kaye. Meehan couldn’t stop smiling as it was his good play that caused the damage in their 4 and 3 victory.
Nick Grounds and Albie Stoddart’s steady play was enough to beat Steve Gandy and Chris Cain 3 and 2 but not before Cain tried to unnerve his opponents on the 12th. His approach shot saw the ball heading toward the green and his club whistle just over Stoddy’s head - Cain had been perfecting this shot on his recent trip to Portugal where he left one of his irons up a tree!
Andy Corcoran and Rob Humphreys-Jones lost 2 and 1 to Billy Hogg and Paul Russell. It was Hogg playing well who made the difference but even he had a problem on the 12th where he ended up truffle hunting in the woodland. Special thanks to Hoggy and Russell for taking on the running of this winter’s league.
Eric Grace brought in son-in-law, Paul Bridson, to play against son-in-law, Andy Cain, and Tim Croft, a case of an in-law becoming an outlaw! It was the outlaw’s team that took the points winning 4 and 3.
Jim Cringle has a new partner Mal Quayle and it was good to see him back as a full winter leaguer as he was one of the original group when it started approx 30 years ago. This partnership was too good for young pretenders Darren Robinson and Nigel Whitehouse who lost 2 and 1, Robinson owned up to one of those ‘bad day at Black Rock’ games.
It was good to see Mal Jones - aka Mal De Mer - come and join the teams at result time and here’s hoping it won’t be too long before he is back swinging a club. Thanks go to Billy Kewley of Agrimark for his continued sponsorship, I’m sure he will be up during the season to check how it’s shaping up.