Yorkshire golf: Determined Yorkshire are Northern Counties champions again

YORKSHIRE defied the elements and a strong Lancashire side to retain their Northern Counties League title with an 11.5-6.5 win at Lindrick.

Yorkshire players and officials assemble in front of the clubhouse after retaining their Northern Counties League title (Pictures: Chris Stratford).

Both the foursomes and singles sessions were played in almost constant, heavy rain.

But having been held 3-3 in the morning, the strength in depth of captain Darryl Berry's side showed itself as they took the singles 8.5-3.5 for overall victory.

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Berry admitted he had been concerned that his side might have been thwarted by the weather for an abandonment at halfway would have seen the match chalked up as a draw - which was all Lancashire needed to dethrone the defending champions.

English men's champion Dan Brown (Masham) was well prepared for the wet conditions at Lindrick as Yorkshire defeated Lancashire.

"That was my main issue with being 3-3 at lunch," he said. "Ideally I wanted to be up in the foursomes, but I would've taken 3-3 but for the threat of an abandonment.

"The faith I have in these guys is unquestionable and I knew they could do it in the singles if they got the chance."

Lindrick's fine course survived the onslaught from the heavens, but Lancashire could not do likewise against a determined Yorkshire side.

The White Rose men were able to overcome quickly the blow of Brabazon Trophy holder Jamie Bower (Meltham) losing the top match to a fellow England international, Formby's Paul Kinnear, a disobedient driver Bower's undoing having led going into the closing stretch.

English men's champion Dan Brown (Masham) was well prepared for the wet conditions at Lindrick as Yorkshire defeated Lancashire.

New English men's amateur champion Dan Brown (Masham) immediately redressed the afternoon balance and Howley Hall's Ben Hutchinson - who recently succeeded Bower as Yorkshire champion - put his county ahead.

The increased advantage given to the hosts by Hull's Steve Robins winning match four was negated by Wheatley's Kealan Lowe being downed despite a commendable fightback.

But Berry had identified the middle section as critical to his team's overall chances and so it proved.

Hallamshire's Alex Fitzpatrick and England B international Will Whiteoak, of Shipley, were in the pivotal No 6 and No 7 spots respectively and may well have felt the need to apply singles balm to the sting of a foursomes defeat together.

Two up with three to play, they succumbed to a wounding one-hole defeat. No matter.

England Boys international Fitzpatrick showed his mental strength in the afternoon, refusing to be destabilised by losing a two-hole lead again to produce excellent golf down the closing holes for a two-hole win.

And Whiteoak bestrode the course in the manner of an agitated bull, the red rag of the morning loss shredded with a 3&1 singles win.

It meant when the host club's Bailey Gill - the Welsh Open Youths champion - won impressively 3&2 with club-mate Julian Maturi on his bag, Yorkshire needed just a half from one of the remaining matches to retain their crown.

Here Berry's prowess as a captain revealed itself once again, as did his team's ability to respond to his wise counsel.

Rather than selecting the easy option of letting matters take care of themselves, he sought out Wheatley's Ben Brewster - one up playing the 16th - and told him that by winning the hole he would ensure championship success.

Brewster, winner of the Lindrick Scratch Open earlier this season, responded by pitching to 10ft and nervelessly rolling in the decisive putt despite being just off the green's surface.

He went on to complete a one-hole win, as did Ilkley's Jack Lampkin in the anchor match while David Hague (Malton & Norton) returned a half.

Yorkshire's determination to succeed was exemplified by Fulford's James Cass, who battled back to regain parity after 16 holes having been five down, his eventual one-hole loss hopefully ameliorated by the championship triumph that followed.

Lindrick lost its 2016 captain and Yorkshire one of its best known and highly respected administrators this summer with the passing of Tony Grayson.

Berry's pre-match wish was that his team could honour his memory by winning the title at Grayson's home club.

"It is just very fitting that we have beaten Lancashire here on Tony Grayson's course when he is captain of the golf club," said Berry. "It is so unfortunate he was not here to see it, but I'm sure he was looking down on us and smiling."