Hampshire beat Herts to take the lead at the Women’s County Finals

Hampshire moved into the lead at Women’s County Finals when they beat Hertfordshire 6½-2½ in a gripping match at Belton Park Golf Club.
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In the day’s other matches, defending champions Yorkshire rebounded from Tuesday’s disappointment with a commanding 8½–½ win over Gloucestershire; and the hosts, Lincolnshire, scored their first win, beating Buckinghamshire 7-2.

The results mean Hampshire become outright leaders with three wins from three matches so far. Yorkshire and Hertfordshire both have two points, while Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire each have one. Gloucestershire have yet to score.

The day started with drizzle and ended in dank, murky conditions with the light failing fast as the final games concluded. But the golf was sparkling, with birdies galore rewarding attacking shots – and pleasing the many spectators.

The Hampshire/Hertfordshire clash was one of the key matches of the week so far and, although the scoreline looks clear cut, it was a close and tense affair.

The morning foursomes were shared after Hampshire’s Kerry Smith – a former Curtis Cup player – and girl international Emma Allen staged an impressive fightback to snatch a half in the final game.

The pair were two-down on the 16th but won both the remaining holes to take the teams into lunch on level terms.

Hampshire came out strongly in the singles and were ahead in most of the matches for most of the afternoon.

But they were strongly challenged throughout, as evidenced by the match between Emma Allen and Hertfordshire’s Ella Ofstedahl: after the first seven holes Emma had scored four birdies and was just one up.

However, Emma gradually pulled ahead and won on the 15th, while Sarah Bradshaw made short work of her match, claiming her point on the 13th.

Then, as the Hampshire officials and supporters anxiously exchanged updating texts, news came through of another fine fight by Kerry Smith.

She got up in her match for the first time on the 15th and then forged ahead, also winning 16 and 17th to finish the 3/1 winner – and ensure that Hampshire couldn’t be beaten.

Kelly Travers delivered the team’s win seconds later when she finished her match 5/3 and 17-year-old Charlotte Barrow won the 18th to grab her point and extend the overall score.

Hampshire and Hertfordshire used to be regional rivals in this competition, before it was reorganised, and Hampshire county captain Mags Clark had been under no illusions about the test her team faced.

“It was always a tussle when we met years ago and we knew it would be the same,” she said. “It was lovely to meet again but, my goodness, we had to struggle to cross the line against them.”