Royal Norwich pair Dan Henderson and Brian Belshaw retain County Foursomes title at Great Yarmouth and Caister Golf Club
Royal Norwich pair Dan Henderson and Brian Belshaw retained their County Foursomes title at Great Yarmouth and Caister Golf Club –only the third time this has been achieved in the 58-year history of the competition.
Scratch player Henderson and 10-handicapper Belshaw were lucky to make it through to defend their title in the match play finals, having squeezed through the 36-hole Stableford qualifying on countback, but certainly made the most of the opportunity.
'Conditions were pretty tough on the first day, it was cold and windy and as ever it was exposed being on the coast and I think everyone found it tough going,' said Henderson, a former winner of the Norfolk Open and amateur championships.
'We had a good score in the morning of 36 points which put us tied third and I've got to be honest we didn't think our score in the afternoon was going to be good enough to get through.
'Obviously the field as a whole found it pretty tough and were blown off course a bit. We were genuinely surprised to make it through to defend the title, but I'd rather be lucky than good!'
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The full 62-pair field contested the 36-hole Stableford qualifying last Saturday with the top four pairs going through to the Championship matchplay flight and the next four into the second flight with a play off on the Sunday.
Henderson and Belshaw were drawn against 2010 winners and Royal Norwich club-mates Scott Nichols, who plays off three, and scratch player Austin Brydon in their semi-final.
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'It was a bit weird to play your mates in the semi-final, but it was probably the best we played all week,' said Henderson. 'It was a bit windier and a bit colder on the Sunday but we were only two or three over par when we beat them on the 16th so it was a really good win.'
In the final they met another pair from Royal Norwich in shape of four-handicapper Marcel Arend and seven-handicapper Gordon Knott, who defeated Terry Norman and Trevor Cave from host club Gt Yarmouth and Caister 1 up.
'We started really well in the final and were four up through six,' explained Henderson, 'but to be fair they were pretty unlucky. 'They picked out loads of gorse bushes and they got some pretty bad bounces and luck wasn't on their side. In the end we prevailed pretty comfortably.
'But I have to pay testament to my partner who played pretty steady all week. He didn't do a lot wrong and off a 10 handicap you expect him to make a few errors but he really didn't. It made my life an awful lot easier because I was hitting out of the fairways and usually got the chance to stick it pretty close.'
Henderson and Belshaw are now targeting an historic treble of consecutive wins with next year's competition being held around their home course. Back-to-back wins were achieved on two previous occasions in 1973 and 1974 by R Beeson and S Emery and 2006 and 2007 by P Reade and I Hardy.
'It's never been done three times in a row and it's at our home club next year so we've earmarked that one already,' said Henderson. 'We won't get ahead of ourselves but that would be history and pretty special if we can.'
Norfolk County Golf Union County Foursomes for the Carrick & Thompson Bowls on Sunday, April 15 at Gt Yarmouth & Caister Golf Club - Match Play Finals:
1st Flight Semi Finals: Dan Henderson, Brian Belshaw (Royal Norwich) beat Scott Nichols, Austin Brydon (Royal Norwich) 3&2; Marcel Arend, Gordon Knott (Royal Norwich) beat Terry Norman, Trevor Cave (Gt Yarmouth & Caister) 1 up. Final: Dan Henderson, Brian Belshaw beat Marcel Arend, Gordon Knott 6&5
2nd Flight Semi Finals: Sean Brady, Luke Knights (Weston Park) beat Sean Brady, Luke Knights (Weston Park) 7&6; Tom Nudd, James Smart (Royal Norwich) beat Dan Jones, Andrew Fish (Barnham Broom) 4&3.
Final: Tom Nudd, James Smart beat Sean Brady, Luke Knights 2&1