ROTHERHAM’S Richard Jones decided to be “a bit more focused” on his golf this year in the season in which he moves into the seniors’ sphere of the sport.
What Jones, twice a Yorkshire champion, did not anticipate was that it would lead to him making his 100th appearance for the county 14 years after he last turned out for the White Rose.
Captain Darryl Berry has been unable to call on several young players for Saturday’s Northern Counties League match with Northumberland at York because of the demands of end-of-year examinations.
Enter Jones, who has earned his selection not out of sentimentality, but because he brings to the side not only a wealth of experience gained during those 99 previous appearances, but also some eye-catching form that has seen his handicap dip to plus 0.5.
“I’m coming up to 55 – next week, in fact – so I’ve started putting in a bit of effort again,” said Jones, the head greenkeeper at Waterfront Golf, in Wath Upon Dearne.
“You get to your late forties and you obviously can’t compete with the younger end.
“But now I can start playing in the Yorkshire Seniors, British Seniors, stuff like that.
“I’m getting to a stage where I can start playing in competitions again at seniors level and think I’ve got a chance of winning.
“I think I’ve practised more this year and been more diligent with my practice. I’ve always played quite a lot, but I’m just a bit more focused than before.”
Berry, who last year led Yorkshire to both Northern Counties League success and the English title, has teamed Jones with last year’s White Rose Boys’ captain Matty Raybould (Bridlington) in the foursomes.
The pair practised together on Friday at York as the 12-man team prepared to face Northumberland, who won 12.5-5.5 against Lancashire in their opening match while Yorkshire were defeating Cheshire 10.5-7.5 at Ganton.
Berry again has reigning English men’s amateur champion Dan Brown (Masham) spearheading his side in both the foursomes – with Fulford’s Craig Smith – and the singles.
Jones will play at No 5 as he adds another chapter to an illustrious county career that has seen him record 47 wins and 19 halves.
As well as his two Yorkshire championship victories, he has been Sheffield stroke play champion three times, Sheffield Open winner, and was a part of Yorkshire’s team that won the English County finals in 2001 and 2002.
On Saturday he becomes the 14th player to reach a century of Yorkshire appearances.
Yorkshire team v Northumberland at York: Dan Brown (Masham), Craig Smith (Fulford), Luke Robinson (Hornsea), Charlie Daughtrey (Rotherham), Richard Jones (Rotherham), Matty Raybould (Bridlington), Ben Firth (Moortown), Damon Coulson (Fulford), Luke Palmowski (Hickleton), Sam Rook (Lindrick), Lewis Hollingworth (Rotherham), Jamie Harrison (Rotherham).