The penultimate round of the league phase of Burghley Park’s Winter League was completed at the weekend, and 6 of the 8 places in the knockout stages will be decided in the final round next weekend.
Only two teams are sure of qualification, Jordan and Adam Mayman in League C, and Martin Ash and Stuart Blesset in League A.
This will be the most competitive final round of matches for years, with holes won likely to be critical for several teams.
The Mayman brothers lost their 100 percent record in this round, sharing a half with in-form Barrie Dawson and James Bust.
League A saw long time leaders Richard Vaughan and George Beadle go down 4&3 to Martin Ash and Stuart Blesset, who replaced them at the top of the table and are now sure to figure in the knockout stages.
Vaughan and Beadle’s fate is in their own hands, as a win in their final match will see them through.
Anything less than a win could leave them sweating on the outcome of the game between 3rd placed Doug Hunter and David Shales and 8th placed Stewart Ward & Jon Tyrell. Hunter and Shales are two points behind, with a superior holes won record.
Other matches in the division saw Simon Tee & Clive Knox claim a walkover against Matt Lem and Jacob Howe, and Sanjay Nithiyilingam and James Vaughan beating Stewart Ward and Jon Tyrell 2 up. Dave Millichip and Alex Cole are in the driving seat in League B, beating Lewin Auciello and Dean Vaughan 1 up to take a 2 point lead at the top of the table.
A win in the last round will ensure their progress in the competition. Three other teams are also in the mix, although 4th placed David Tilley and Graham Bedford need to win big and hope that the other results go their way.
Lewin Auciello and Dean Vaughan are in 2nd place, ahead of Chris Townsend and Alan Cole on holes won, and if both teams win qualification is likely to be determined by who wins by the biggest margin on the day.
Both the other matches, between Bernie Clarke and Craig Neal and Stuart Pringle and Andy Vaughan, and Graham Camp and Steve Hopkins and Andy Sandel and Bob Howe, were halved.
Jordan and Adam Mayman play their last match safe in the knowledge that they are already through to the next phase.
A half will see them go through as divisional leaders.
Their final match is against Mark Yarham and Doug Watterson, who occupy 2nd spot after an impressive 5&4 win over Paul York and Paul Redfern, and need a half to be sure of going through.
Should they lose, the door is theoretically open to 3rd placed David Jackson and Javan Argent, who could pip them on holes won if results go their way.
Jackson and Argent’s half against Bob Emmins and Chris Bradshaw has, however, given them a big hill to climb.
In the other match, Chris Lees and Bob Chapman got a walkover against Steve Coultas and Jason Rudkin.
League D is agonisingly close. Four teams sit at the top on 11 points, and all have a chance of progressing to the last eight.
However, even the teams in 5th and 6th places could conceivably go through if they win and other results go their way.
The tightness of this section is highlighted by the fact that the top 4 teams all played each other in the last round, and all halved their matches.
Paul Ramm and Richard Allen occupy top spot on holes won, and halved with 2nd placed Dave Marsden and Gary Harrison. Bill O’Driscoll and Terry Austin in 3rd halved with 4th placed Rob Fisher and Gary Steadman.
Paul Wilkinson and John Mayman have made a late run, winning their last three matches after losing the first three to put them into 5th spot on 9 points.
Their 2 up defeat of Dave Gibson and Peter Barnes gives them an outside chance of making the knockout stages and defending their title from last year.
Keith Duff and Phil Hunt occupy 6th place on 8 points after a 4&3 victory over Richard Gilbert and Richard Cook, but need to overcome table-toppers Ramm and Allen in their last match to have any chance of making the next phase.
The Pro Shop’s January Jolly Stableford competition attracted 61 entrants, with good scoring in difficult conditions.
In the Men’s section, Paul Downs took the honours with an impressive 41 points, ahead of Andrew Frisby on 40, who edged out Mick Sissins, also 40 points, on countback.
Kay Hircock claimed the Ladies’ prize with 35 points, ahead of Janet Duff on 33.