The Team gathered on Tuesday, 4th April in Kent with much excitement and anticipation of the first round against Brighton at Royal Cinque Ports on Thursday 6th. Following the March pre-Hewitt warm up in Spain, the Captain faced a tough selection process and opted for a squad of 12. In particular, it was especially pleasing to welcome Luca Gerolla to the team, Luca had only left the College in July 2016 and plays off a handicap of 1!
The 12 man squad was as follows:
Mark Whittaker (J86), Captain
David Hague (J12)
Hugh Jackson (T95)
Christian Minchella (H94)
Matthew Camacho (C98)
Tom Davies (W93)
Luca Gerolla (O16)
Edward Kitson (E85)
Martin Hattrell (E78)
George Hattrell (H09)
James Faulkner (E01)
Alex Faulkner (E05)
FIRST ROUND – Thursday, 6th April
Ampleforth 5 v Brighton 0
David Hague/Hugh Jackson Won 1 up RW Ainsworth/M Budd
George Hattrell/Luca Gerolla Won 6&5 GT Bush/JT Tate
Matthew Camacho/Tom Davies Won 6&5 C Gates/JGT Hunt
James Faulkner/Alex Faulkner Won 2 up R Rattansi/AJ Sweet
Mark Whittaker/Christian Minchella Won 3&2 CM Long/PJS Spencer
This was indeed a convincing victory, the jittery first round nerves and hurdle had been overcome and we were off and running with a fine gallop into the Tournament.
ROUND 2 - Friday 7th April
Ampleforth 3 v Wellington 2
James Faulkner/Alex Faulkner Won on the 21st AT Gowar/JAD Wyke
Mark Whittaker/Christian Minchella Lost 4&3 SR Mackie/JP Sallis
Hugh Jackson/David Hague Won 7&6 JJ Douglas/RW Webb-Eggleshaw
George Hattrell/Luca Gerolla Lost 2&1 CE Richardson/EA Peters
Matthew Camacho/Tom Davies Won 2&1 CRA Rowse/ENJ Bragg
In the Captain’s view this turned out to be the toughest match (Epsom apart). Team Faulkner were faced with a curling left to right 15ft putt on the 18th to half the hole in 4 and to keep Ampleforth’s hopes alive, Alex duly held it, what a moment! Onto the 19th, not to be outdone, James had a similarly testing 10ft putt for the half in 4 again to keep Ampleforth in the Tournament and also duly held his nerve!! The 20th was halved in pars and on the 21st a solid par 5 from Team Faulkner was enough to seal the victory whilst the opposition missed the green right and made a bogey. For the second year running Ampleforth were into the weekend with tails high and much optimism!
ROUND 3 – Saturday 8th April
Ampleforth 4 v Canford 1
Alex Faulkner was not available to play so Edward Kitson was brought into partner James Faulkner. This match started at the very early time of 07:45 but we were off to a good start and up in all matches early on. The Team played fantastically well with no lost games.
Mark Whittaker/Christian Minchella Won 6&5 DJ Restall/MR Suggett
Edward Kitson/James Faulkner Won 5&3 MRJ Pomeroy/MJF Clarke
David Hague/Hugh Jackson Won 5&4 CJ Kerr/NJA Gordon
(note: they were actually 5 under par for the first 12 holes played)
George Hattrell/Luca Gerolla Half JO Archer/RI Black
Matthew Camacho/Tom Davies Half PJL Steen/ODH Stocks
As we had won the first three games the Captain decided to call in the troops from games 4 & 5 in order to rest the Team for the afternoon match.
The Team relaxed in the clubhouse over a light lunch whilst the prospect of an epic Quarter Final encounter against either Tonbridge or Radley awaited. Alas, it was to be Tonbridge the defending champions and who better else than to play against! Having narrowly lost to Tonbridge in the Quarter Final 2013 it was now our time and the Team were determined, excited and confident! The Captain opted for the experience and exceptional short game skills of Martin Hattrell to accompany Luca Gerolla for this match whilst giving son George a welcome rest. The Team responded magnificently and we would eventually prevail as follows:
Ampleforth 3½ v Tonbridge 1½
Matthew Camacho/Tom Davies Lost 4&3 IJ Richardson/M Greenwood
Martin Hattrell/Luca Gerolla Won 2&1 CRE Lloyd/GE Taggart
Hugh Jackson/David Hague Won 5&3 RJ Partridge/CWM Jones
Edward Kitson/James Faulkner Won on the 20th MEH Cox/JC Spurling
Mark Whittaker/Christian Minchella Halved J Foster/JP Hedges
This was indeed a titanic battle with some of the finest golf ever produced by an Ampleforth side. In the end, the pivotal match became Game 4 which Edward Kitson and James Faulkner managed to win with a gritty par 4 on the 19th. For the first time ever we were through to the semi-final on Sunday. What a feeling after many years of hard work, close matches and tears we had finally made it to Sunday!!
Having enjoyed the customary post match drink with the opposition, the biggest challenge that faced the team was accommodation for Saturday evening as our normal accommodation at the Bell Hotel had already been sold out! This was indeed new territory being the first time we had ever needed to find accommodation for a Saturday evening at the Halford Hewitt. After many phone calls and favours called in, accommodation was found and the Team dispersed into local B&Bs, friends houses and even the Dormy House at Deal!
SEMI-FINAL -Sunday 9th April
We awoke to a glorious Sunday morning, blue sky with the sun cracking the flags and we were to face Merchiston in the semi-final. The Captain decided to rest Alex Faulkner and George Hattrell for the morning match but they would both definitely play in the final if we made it through. Once again the team played wonderful golf beating Merchiston with the first 3 matches won.
Ampleforth 4 v Merchiston 1
Hugh Jackson/David Hague Won 5&3 MA Stein/JA McIntosh
Matthew Camacho/Tom Davies Won 2 up CR Simpson/MJ Rolland
Mark Whittaker/Christian Minchella Won 4&3 CML Qwan/DJL Cowan
Edward Kitson/James Faulkner Game halved HJ Thomson/RM Crummey
Martin Hattrell/Luca Gerolla Game halved CD Smith/RW Bremner
After convincing victories in Games 1 and 3, the Captain was hoping Matthew Camacho and Tom Davies would find a way of winning their match in order to rest the troops in games 4 and 5. In a very tight match they duly delivered with a wonderful 4 on the long par 4 16th, a birdie 3 on the 17th and a match winning par 4 on the 18th. We were through to the Final!!
In the other semi-final Epsom v Marlborough became a very close match being decided on the 19th. Epsom being the eventual winners.
FINAL – Sunday 9th April
Ampleforth 1½ v Epsom 3½
David Hague/Hugh Jackson Lost 1 down PAF Stamford/DA Boote
Mark Whittaker/Christian Minchella Lost 2&1 MM Williamson/DPJ Cullen
James Faulkner/Alex Faulkner All square MJ Felton/JR Morgan
George Hattrell/Luca Gerolla Won 1 up after 17 JCA Collier/SJ Schindler
Matthew Camacho/Tom Davies Lost 4&3 LR Kuhler/AH Maurice
In keeping with the Captain’s strategy for the day, the fresh looking faces of, Alex Faulkner and George Hattrell were brought into replace Edward Kitson and Martin Hattrell who had both successfully delivered in getting us to the Final and now deserved a well earned rest.
This was such an enthralling battle, our top pair David Hague and Huge Jackson were pitched against a plus 5 handicap and Walker Cup player, D A Boote. Unfortunately, we very narrowly lost the top game 1 down and in game 2, Mark Whittaker and Christian Minchella were in control of their match being 2 up with 6 to play but two mistakes on holes 14 & 15 would cost them dearly and would lose 2&1. James Faulkner and Alex Faulkner were all square playing the 18th and with the opposition in trouble off the tee were about to close out the game having hit the green in two. George Hattrell and Luca Gerolla were 1 up after 17 and were similarly looking to close out the game. In the final match, unfortunately Matthew Camacho and Tom Davies couldn’t manage to deliver the same quality they had shown in the semi-final losing 4&3.
POST TOURNAMENT SUMMARY
The quality of golf played by all the squad was truly astonishing! It was indeed the strongest team Ampleforth have ever fielded in the Halford Hewitt. To be able to field a player with a handicap of +4 is a game changer and I would like to pay particular thanks to David Hague for not only his truly outstanding golf but also his humility and inspiration to us all, in true Yorkshire language – you did us proud lad!
For many years we have known that we are, as a collective Team, more than capable of competing with the best, well this year we let our clubs do the talking and did just that! In accordance with the official Hewitt statistics, Ampleforth are now the most improved side over the last 5 years and we are ranked as the 6th best side over this same period.
However, what really sets us apart from the rest is our unique and exceptional team spirit throughout the squad of players, society and supporters. Indeed our on-course Whats App commentary is something which Sky Sports would be proud of, a big thank you to Chris Healy for all his media and production skills. We are also very fortunate to have such wonderful support from everyone notably including Fr Edward and The President of the Society. We all come together as one in the Ampleforth spirit and way.
The 2017 Hewitt was a truly wonderful experience which the Captain felt very fortunate to be a part of. It was a collective team effort, it will always be a team effort and I would like to thank each and every player and supporter who contributed so magnificently.
The Ampleforth Halford Hewitt team is without doubt getting younger and stronger, competition for places is fierce but the spirit within the Society is what truly sets us apart from the rest!
The future looks bright, very bright, roll on 2018!