The initial phase of the Winter League at Burghley Park Golf Club reaches its climax on Sunday, with the final round of the round robin stage is due to be completed.
With the top two teams in each of the four leagues going through to the knockout stages, most of the qualifying places are still up for grabs, with only side having already secured their quarter-final spot.
Winter league organiser Stewart Ward is delighted that the competition is so tight.
“One of our main aims for the Winter League is to provide competitive golf over the winter months, and the fact that there are still so many possible permutations for qualification means that every match is vital”, he said.
The penultimate round was completed last weekend, and saw several shock results. In League A, leaders Barrie Dawson & James Bust crashed 5&4 to John Mayman & Paul Wilkinson, and now lie 3 points behind the new table toppers; they know they have to win on Sunday to have any chance of progressing.
The new team at the top is Paul Ramm & Richard Allen, who beat Stuart Busby & John Tilley 3&2 to move into pole position, knowing that a half from their last match will take them through.
David Gibson & Peter Barnes climbed to 2nd, courtesy of a 2 up victory over Jacob & Will Robinson, and need a win to ensure they reach the knockout stages.
In theory, the teams in 4th and 5th spots (Stewart Ward & Jon Tyrrell, and the Robinsons) could get through, but both would need a complicated set of results to emerge from the remaining matches.
l League B also saw turmoil at the top, with the leading two sides both losing. Bill O’Driscoll & Terry Austin were the beneficiaries from the carnage, leaping from 3rd to 1st with an impressive 2&1 victory over previous table toppers Alex Cole & Dave Millichip. 2nd placed Dave Tilley & Graham Bedford also lost, going down to a thumping 8&7 defeat by Bob Emmins & Chris Bradshaw.
All three of these teams have the same number of points going into the last match, and it seems likely that the results of their head to head matches earlier in the event may yet prove crucial.
However, the 4th and 5th placed teams are still only 2 points behind, and with the right permutation of last round results, either could yet spring a surprise. Steve Hopkins & Graham Camp beat Alan Cole & Chris Townsend to stay 4th, and Emmins & Bradshaw’s big win also gives them hope.
l In League C, the only remaining 100% record in the whole league fell, with James Vaughan & Sanjay Nithiyilingam being held to a half by Colin Stewart & Mark Hotchkins, who before this match had not taken a single point.
But as both the 2nd and 3rd placed teams were beaten, Vaughan & Nithiyilingam secured the divisional title, and are the only side definitely through to the knockout stages. Gary Harrison & Dave Marsden went down 4&3 to Bernie Clark & Chris Neal, whilst Jordan & Adam Mayman lost 4&3 to Jason Rudkin & Steve Coultas.
This leaves Harrison & Marsden and the Maymans tied on 12 points, and if both win their last match the result of the match between them earlier in the season will determine who goes through. If both lose their games this weekend, the door opens for Dean Vaughan & Lewin Auciello, and Clarke & Neal, who lie 3 points behind; if all this were to happen, the mathematics would become complicated at this point.
l The top three sides in League D all won their Round 6 matches, meaning there was no change at the top. David Jackson & Javan Argent overcame Richard Vaughan & George Beadle 3&2 to take a 1 point lead into the final round, and thereby ending Vaughan & Beadle’s hopes of making the quarter-finals.
Paul Redfern & Paul York were 2&1 winners over Jason Jones & Dave Dorward, to retain 2nd spot one point behind the leaders, whilst Jon & Jake Brown beat Charles Cade & Rob King 5&4 to stay 3rd. The final round pits the sides in 2nd and 3rd positions against each other, so this match looks likely to be a winner takes all situation, unless leaders Jackson & Argent slip up.