The final of the East Riding Union of Golf Clubs’ Matchplay Championship was played at Ganton on Sunday 17th September. The weather was kind, but a testing easterly breeze proved to be a challenge to both players.
The match was eagerly anticipated between two Hessle Golf Club players, veteran Andy Lockwood and young prodigy Aaron Brettell. Being the East Riding Union's Team Manager, Andy was well aware of the abilities of team player Aaron and his prodigious driving length off the tee. Andy also has had great experience over the years in the Matchplay Championship having played in numerous finals and semi-finals. Andy's first final was a defeat to Richard Finch in 1996 (before Aaron was born!) and finally winning the title in 2016 when he beat Jon Samuel of Hull G.C. on the 36th hole. This was Aaron's first final.
Aaron's wayward opening drive was a sign of things to come, although he was barely a hundred yards from the flag his ball was way to the right, almost on the 2nd fairway. Andy’s drive was much shorter but on the correct fairway. Both players played their second shots to within about 12 feet of the pin. Aaron failed to hole out, whereas Andy calmly knocked his putt in for birdie to take an early lead.
On the 2nd Aaron pulled his drive way left into the deep unforgiving rough, not able to find his ball he conceded the hole to go 2 down. The third hole at Ganton is a relatively short par 4 at 334 yards and Andy Lockwood’s drive was straight down the middle finishing some 20 yards short of the green. Aaron’s drive was all of 350 yards, leaving him pin high at the back of the green and he proceeded to birdie and reduce the deficit to one hole. The fourth hole saw Andy make a regulation par 4 whilst Aaron was struggling to find the green, taking Andy back to 2 up.
Andy’s errant tee shot into the water at the par three 5th gifted a hole back to Aaron. On the 6th we saw Aaron some 50 yards ahead of Andy off the tee but he was unable to capitalise on this advantage and lost the hole to Andy’s par 4. A par 4 for Aaron was good enough to win the 7th to take him back to only one down. The 8th saw both players in the deep rough to the right and resulting bogey 5s was the first hole they had halved. The 9th again saw Andy’s ability to cope with Aaron’s length, when he chipped to within 5 feet to make birdie 4 whilst Aaron taking 3 shots to get down from the back of the green.
Aaron’s chipping and putting woes gifted Andy a further hole at the short par 3. The 11th saw Andy gift the hole to Aaron when he unexpectedly 3 putted. The dog leg 12th was halved with par 4s. On the par 5 (535 yard) 13th hole, Aaron unleashed a monstrous 385 yard drive eclipsing Andy’s meagre drive of 310 yards, but again length counted for nothing as both players proceeded to hit the green in two shots and complete the hole in 4s. The remainder of the first round saw both players dropping shots at the difficult 15th and 17th holes leaving Andy in the lead by 2 shots going into lunch.
The afternoon round began in similar vein to the end of the 1st with the first three holes being halved. Aaron pulled one back at the 4th when Andy failed for once to chip and putt from the back of the green. The 5th and 6th were halved with matching pars and bogeys. At the 7th, Aaron’s wayward driving again found him in deep rough costing him yet another hole, but on the 8th he birdied following two magnificent shots to within 6 foot of the pin which left the match very close again with only one hole difference.
The 9th was almost a repeat of the morning round with Andy chipping from 70 yards to within 5 foot to give him a birdie 4 and when Aaron 3 putted from the back of the green Andy’s lead was back to 2 holes. The par 3 10th saw Andy fail to chip and putt from the edge of the green, so back to 1 hole in Andy’s favour. Holes 11 and 12 were halved in par.
The par 5 13th saw Andy hit a drive to almost the same spot as in the morning round leaving him 215 yards from the pin, his following 6 iron left him about 12 foot away. Aaron’s much shorter approach shot missed the green, although he chipped and putted for a birdie 4. However it was no match for Andy when he rolled in his 12 foot putt in for an eagle 3. Aaron was now 2 down with only five holes to play so it was understandable that he was looking to drive the 282 yard par 4. Unfortunately yet another wayward drive saw him in deep trouble, A straight forward par 4 was good enough to give Andy a win and go 3 up with just four to play.
Down the 15th Andy bunkered his tee shot which ultimately cost him the hole so his lead had been reduced to 2 holes with three to play. Both players hit great drives down the formidable 16th Hole. Andy’s second left him on the green some 35 foot from the pin, whilst Aaron’s approach grabbed and left him about 30 feet short of the pin. When Andy rolled his putt to 5 feet,t Aaron felt he had to hole his putt. He gave it a chance, but the ball had rolled about 8 feet past. When he missed his next putt it was down to Andy to just hole his 5 footer, which he duly did to seal victory.
Andy Lockwood was the Matchplay Champion by a margin of 3 & 2. Andy’s experience proved to be the key ingredient on the testing challenge of the Ganton course. He generally kept his ball in play and excelled with his chipping and putting. It was a great match played in a friendly and competitive spirit between two excellent players.
Mr. Michael Dawson, President of the East Riding Union of Golf Clubs presented Andy Lockwood with the Championship Trophy at the presentation dinner in the Ganton Clubhouse.