I am so disappointed, as are the rest of the team, to report that we missed out by the narrowest of margins in the County Finals. Having had a superb win against Galloway by 8.5-0.5 and having beaten Renfrewshire by 5.5-3.5, we went into yesterday’s final match knowing that a draw would not be good enough – we had to win. Things were looking rosie at lunchtime when our morning foursomes pairings put up a 2-1 lead, Jane and Rachael recording a magnificent 6&5 victory over Kelsey MacDonald and Hannah McCook, Claire Hargan and Wendy going to the 18th but coming away with a 1 hole win over Cara Gruber and Pam Mackay, and Kirsten and Claire MacD missing out narrowly to Alison Bartlett and Jenny Milne by 1 hole. The team had made the dream start and all that was needed was to build on that.
A lunchtime chat put the records straight – a 6-0 win in the afternoon was needed; no-one was to rely on anyone else to bring home the points; they all needed to go out onto the course and win – and boy, were they up for it! Northern Counties had lost Mary Smith, who had departed for Blairgowrie and the Scottish Veteran Ladies’ Championship, and Kelsey MacDonald who had been taken to hospital for an x-ray on a wrist she had damaged in the morning match. Jane did as asked, winning early and sending a message through the team. Next came Claire Hargan winning on the 16th and the message was clear, we only needed another 1 point. That however was to elude us. Karen unfortunately lost to young Julie Vass, but the rest of the matches, although close, looked comfortable. But then the nerves started to kick in, anxiety struck and the situation started to change. Jenny Milne had a great up and down on 17 to square the match against Rachael and with news that Louise was 1 down on 17 and Claire MacD was all square on 16, a half at the 18th gave Midlothian another half point but the outcome looked very very tight. Louise remained 1 down at the 18th, a great match play finishing hole. Her second to the green unfortunately just ran off the left hand side of the green but a superb up and down gave her a par finish. Her opponent, Hannah McCook hit the green in two but was left with a testing putt to half the hole and win the match. To the Midlothian opposition, it looked as if the ball just caught the right hand edge of the hole but it still dropped in. So it was down to back marker Claire MacD to bring home the needed half point. The pressure on MacD was immense as the entire gallery surrounded the 18th green – Midlothian team and spectators waiting for half a point and Northern Counties wanting a win. Having lost 16, MacD and Cara Gruber halved the 17th with birdie 2s and headed to the 18th with Midlothian 1 down. Great drives by both girls were followed by Cara running through and over the back of the green and MacD hitting a superb shot onto the left hand edge of the green. Cara had a magnificent chip which stopped short of the hole but MacD, by this time, knew she needed to sink her putt. It was a sweetly struck putt and looked fantastic on the way to the hole but sadly shaved the hole and stayed out, much to everyone’s disappointed and especially MacD’s. Cara then added the final nail to the coffin and sank her putt to square the match.
I would like to say that the team were absolutely superb. Each and every one of them played their hearts out and gave as much as they could. Their golf over all three days could not be faulted and the support they showed to one another was, yet again, totally and utterly amazing, as was the support they showed to myself and the backroom team. Not a cross word or a moan was heard the whole time and the atmosphere both on and off the course, both at the golf course and back at the hotel was wonderful. They were all keen and eager to play and certainly stepped forward when asked. They were disappointed when rested but took that in their stride. I could not have asked for anything more.
My backroom team were magnificent and held me together each and every day when things were tough. It is hard watching and keeping track of all 6 matches but thanks to the support from President Margaret, Vice-Captain Mary and Selector Linda and the use of modern technology, the airways were busy as messages were being texted back and forth with the individual game situations.
The caddies, as ever, were a treat and got as involved in the matches as the players – egging the players on, giving them lines, helping them to read putts and keeping their concentration going. It was superb to see and such an important aspect of the whole weekend. I never once felt alone while watching as the support from the spectators was fantastic. Thank you to all of you who came along to watch. I sincerely hope you enjoyed the spectacle that was put on. My thanks also go to Gillian Kirkwood who very kindly took on the task of MCLGA website reporter so that all of the readers could be kept up to date with the results.
There is absolutely nothing I would change from the three days but to lose out by half a game point is exceedingly hard to bear. It could not have been closer. We are all devastated but will bounce back with renewed vigour next year – so all counties beware the injured golfers!