Hendon GC was the site of the 2021 Men's and Women's County Championships. Jason and his green staff did a fabulous job getting the course in fantastic shape in what was a short window of time for good growing conditions after a very wet and cold April and May.
As Always, Pete, Gabriella, Danni, and all the staff at Hendon GC rolled out the red carpet for the County and the competitors. It really was the perfect stage for the biggest tournament of the year.
Unfortunately for the 72 men that were qualifying on day one, the weather did not cooperate. For the first time in two weeks, the rains came and they did not relent all day. Most players had to battle through chilly conditions and heavy rain for their entire 36-holes. So it was no surprise, given the difficulty of the conditions, that the scoring was higher than expected.
Middlesex and Northwood GC veteran, Justin Phelps, utilised his experience to manage his way around the two rounds in 70, 71 (+1) to claim medalist honours, 1 shot ahead of Enfield's Chris Davis. Chris Davis did win low-nett in round 1 and Jordan Forster won low-nett in round 2.
At the other end of the qualifying, +14 was enough to get defending champion James Ellis, Andre Bothma, Dan Parsons, and Rymer Smith into a playoff for three spots. The competitors started on the 10th in a sudden-death playoff. Bothma found the fairway and then the green for a regulation par to secure his place in the knockout stages. Parsons, Smith, and Ellis all found trouble off the tee and could not find the green in two but Smith and Parsons managed to get up and down to better Ellis's bogey five and move on to the next day. You watch the live recording of the playoff on our Twitter HERE.
In the Champion Club event, it was Northwood GC who claimed victory for the second year running. Ian Ashenden, Andre Bothma, and Justin Phelps combined for a 36-hole total of +24 to win by ten shots over Enfield GC. Northwood will now go on to represent Middlesex at Knole Park GC on 18-19th September in the English Champion Club Tournament.
Qualifying Scores can be viewed HERE.
Men's Champion Club scores can be viewed HERE.
Justin Phelps - Medalist
Christopher Davis - Low Nett Round 1
Northwood GC - Champion Club Champions. L-R: Andre Bothma, Ian Ashenden, Justin Phelps
The second day of the Championship saw the sun come back out, the men begin their knockout stage, and the women begin their 36-hole qualifier.
In the top half of the back for the men, Niall Keogh and Justin Phelps won both their match to set up a semi-final meeting between the pair. In the bottom half, Ian Ashenden and Mitchell Hollis had close matches but both men managed to emerge victorious from their matches which set up the second semi-final.
In the women's qualifier, Nicola Foster, Lucy Handley and Ye Hee Lee all set the early pace with 79 (+6) after the first round. As the day warmed up, so did 14-year-old Saskia Owen from Bush Hill Park GC who carded a phenomenal 71 (-2) in the second round to leapfrog to the top of the leaderboard and take home medalist honours. Her round included TWO eagles and two birdies! Previous Champion Gemmal Allman and Nicola Foster also confirmed their places in the knockout, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. But there was a playoff for the last spot between Ye Hee Lee and Jessica Brown. They went down the 10th hole but it was over in a flash and young Jessica found the fairway, hit it on to 20ft, and calmly rolled in the putt for a birdie 3 and the last spot in the match play. You can rewatch the action on our Twitter HERE.
Final scores for the women's qualifying can be viewed HERE.
Saskia Owen - Medalist and Overall Low Nett (Tippy Trophy)
Nicola Foster - Low Nett Rd 1
It's always a strange atmosphere at the County Championship on the morning of the final day. The hustle and bustle of the first two days are gone, the crowds have not arrived yet, and the competitors are focused.
In the men's knockout, four-time champion Justin Phelps took one of the pre-tournament favourite's, Niall Keogh. It was nip and tuck as expected but Niall Keogh edged ahead late on the back nine and held out for a 3&2 victory. Ian Ashenden and Mitchell Hollis, both of who have never reached the final day before, battled it out in the second semi-final. Ian Ashenden got up early and never looked back, cruising to a 4&2 victory.
So it was Niall Keogh and Ian Ashenden in the men's final. Niall went down for the first time in the match play stages to Ian early on but he quickly turned it around and began piecing together some flawless golf. There was no relenting from Niall, who just seemed to par or birdie each hole. Ian seemed to lose steam and eventually succumbed to Niall's stellar play, with Niall winning the final 6&5.
The entire men's KO bracket can be viewed HERE.
In the women's knockout, it was an all-Bush Hill Park GC affair in the first semi-final, with good friends and teammates Jessica Brown and Saskia Owen taking each other on. Saskia obviously continued her great golf from the previous day and beat Jessica 5&4. In the second semi-final, Gemma Allman took on Nicola Foster. Gemma played superb golf and was simply too strong for Nicola, winning the match 7&6.
So, young Sakia Owen and past Champion Gemma Allman were up against one another in the final. It was a tight affair for the front nine with each player winning holes, with the pair lying A/S after nine holes. Be it experience on Gemma's part, inexperience on Saskia's part, or simply great golf from Gemma, but Gemma pulled away early on the back nine and never looked back eventually winning the final 4&3.
The entire women's KO bracket can be viewed HERE.
Niall Keogh - Men's Champion
Ian Ashenden - Men's Runner Up
Mitchell Hollis - Men's semi-finalist
Justin Phelps - Men's semi-finalist
Gemma Allman - Women's Champion
Saskia Owen - Women's Runner Up
Nicola Foster - Women's semi-finalist
Jessica Brown - Women's semi-finalist