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Grafton Morrish Final 2018

Captain of the Old Seafordian Golf Society Nick Tull reports on how the team got on in the finals.

Following on from yet another successful Grafton Morrish qualifying campaign in May 2018 at North Hants Golf Club, the Old Seafordians Golf Society Scratch Team travelled up to Hunstanton, Norfolk in early October with real optimism that our first competitive win was on the cards. This meant that Seaford College had received a bye in to the 2nd round, something which is normally only reserved for past champions, however the fact that OSGS had qualified three times out of their first five attempts would not have gone un-noticed. A first Grafton Morrish match win now meant a potential spot in the last 16 in the competition, which would be a tie against Sedbergh who won three nil in the first round.
 
The OSGS team had prepared well in the run up to the event having gathered at Walton Heath in September to practice together and the pairings were decided upon after a competitive match on the official practice day. Captain Nick Tull would partner Max Farrant, Tim Banks would play with Sean Stevenson, and in the final match Seaford old boys would be represented by Neal Fox and Will Gilsenan – two of these pairings were new combinations based on compatibility, and golfing styles.
 
Friday 5th October began with a strong breeze which petered out in the afternoon meaning match against Sedbergh was played in ideal, warm, sunny conditions making the course which was in superb condition score able, and the matches played at a very good standard of golf.
 
Tull and Farrant started slowly but three birdies in four holes from the third hole mean they led narrowly going in to the back nine. The thirteenth was the pivotal hole, on the drivable par four they were playing 3 having taken a penalty drop from an unplayable lie, from the middle of a large gorse bush, they were lucky to find the ball in under 5 minutes too. The recovery shot was miraculous and it finished stone-dead for a gimme par 4 and a half. Farrant went on to hit their second shot on the next hole to 8 foot, which was a conceded win. The next hole was a loss followed by a nervy half meaning the match went down the seventeenth hole with Seaford 2 up. Tull holed an 6 foot par putt to clinch the match and Seaford were in a great position to win the tie.
 
Match score Seaford 1 – 0 Sedbergh
 
Tim Banks and Sean Stevenson played solid golf on the front nine and were 1 up after the 9 holes, although the Sedbergh pair fought back hard the Seaford pair needed to keep their noses in front down the stretch. The par three fifteenth hole would provide the drama in this match, playing its full yardage of 190  in to a slight head wind, the Seaford ball finished just over the front bunker but some ten feet short of the putting surface, leaving Banks with a 50 foot putt, which unbelievably tracked all the way in to the hole for an outrageous birdie two and a win. This set them up nicely and on the seventeenth hole a solid par four from the middle of the fairway proved enough to also win 2 up, therefore Seaford had won their first Grafton Morrish match with a game to go and secured a last 16 tie against multiple previous winners George Heriot’s, from Scotland.
 
Match score Seaford 2 – 0 Sedbergh
 
Fox and Gilsenan had been down a lot early on and a vital four foot putt on the eighth hole meant they remained 3 down. Some solid fairways and greens foursomes golf was good enough to see them claw back the Sedbergh pair making a fantastic birdie four on the par five eleventh to draw level. A further win on the thirteenth hole meant they were also 1 up playing the seventeenth hole, where both the previous matches had been won. Seventeen proved to be a favourable hole for Seaford in the end after Gilsenan had hit another pin point mid iron shot to 8 feet, which could potentially be for the match and a clean sweep. Fox wasted no time at all rolling their ball on the perfect line and seeing the ball drop for a birdie three and the win meant the day belonged to Seaford.
 
Match score Seaford 3 – 0 Sedbergh
 
Despite the competitive nature of the matches against a very experienced side Sedbergh, the tie was played in very good spirits as is the nature of the whole event, our well beaten opposition were complimentary in the famous clubhouse bar afterwards and commented that given the right conditions, they believed Seaford could go on to do well in the competition.
 
Saturday 6th October was dramatically different from the perfect conditions of the previous day, what a difference 24 hours can make! With very strong winds and heavy rain throughout the day, the matches would be decided purely on the basis of who could stay the warmest and driest the longest, a real battle of will and determination, with the golf being almost unplayable at times.
 
Tull and Farrant battled hard and were winning the match after nine holes, however in the worst of the conditions some sloppy play from the fairways, missing greens meant they went down fighting on the seventeenth hole 2 & 1.
 
Banks and Stevenson had a tough game against two formidable players who dare it be said, being from Scotland perhaps knew how to deal with the awful conditions better. After loosing the first 3 holes they did well to take the match to the fifteenth hole but lost 4&3.
 
Fox and Gilsenan played fantastically well given the weather and were unlucky not to come away with a genuine win, but once the tie had been decided they did the decent thing and shook hands to take an honourable (winning) half on the sixteenth green, thus giving George Heriot’s, albeit deserving winners, more time to shower, dry out and recover, in time for their afternoon tie in the quarter-finals, in ever worsening conditions.
 
George Heriot’s would go on to win the overall competition which showed Seaford that they are not far off in only their fifth year of competing in the Grafton Morrish, which will no doubt give them hope and motivation to return next year to try and go one better.
 
Well played to all six 2018 Grafton Morrish finals OSGS team members, and equally to the wider OSGS squad who helped them qualify back in May, the commitment shown by all to turn up, practice, and travel really has been the basis of the fledgling team’s success to date.
 
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