Cambridge stage strong fightback

WITH 18 holes to play, Cambridge University were staring defeat in the face in the 118th Varsity match at Aldeburgh where the course was immaculate but the weather decidedly chilly.

By Tony Garnett

WITH 18 holes to play, Cambridge University were staring defeat in the face in the 118th Varsity match at Aldeburgh where the course was immaculate but the weather decidedly chilly.

Honours were shared in Friday's foursomes but the Light Blues trailed after 18 holes in seven of the ten singles, were ahead in two and all square in the match between the captains.

The turnaround of fortunes in the afternoon was amazing as Cambridge won five matches, halved two and ended overall winners by eight-and-a-half to six-and-a-half.

Victory was assured when news reached the clubhouse that Charles Richardson, two down at lunch, had beaten Simon Chambers 2 and 1.

The two Oxford successes at the foot of the order from Olly Stephen and Ritchie Balmer came as no more than consolation prizes for the Dark Blues.

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It was a tense but sporting encounter, as was to be expected from the oldest established amateur event in the golfing calendar.

It attracted the biggest crowd to watch golf in Suffolk in recent times, other than at Stoke-by-Nayland last year for the PGA European Seniors Tour.

One felt sorry for Oxford captain Philip Bickerton who lost a tremendous tussle with his opposite number Edward Zaayman on the 18th green after missing a three-foot par putt to halve the match.

Level after 18 holes, Bickerton soon established a two-hole advantage. Zaayman then won five holes in succession to be three up at the turn.

Bickerton regained the initiative by winning the tenth, 11th and 12th holes so the match was level with six to play.

A lost ball at the 14th with a wayward shot down the left saw Bickerton fall behind. At the par three 15th he produced a breathtaking chip stone dead from grass behind the bunker on the right. Zaayman three-putted and it was all square with three to play.The drama continued. A ten-foot putt earned Bickerton a half at the 16th but he missed a short one on the 17th that would have ensured at least a halved match.

Nerves played their part at the end. Both players were on the fringe of the 18th green in two with Bickerton better placed with an uphill putt from the left.

Both approach putts were tentative. Zaayman completed his par from five feet, but Bickerton, with a three-footer, saw the ball slide past the hole.

It was an agonising finish but at that stage no one could have anticipated the full extent of the Cambridge revival which must have delighted coaches Chris Aldred from Royal Worlington and Keith Preston from Aldeburgh.

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY 8.5, OXFORD UNIVERSITY 6.5

Foursomes over 36 holes.

Cambridge University names first.

Ruaraidh Stewart and Chris Nelson lost to Edward Oddy and Matthew Locke 4 and 3.

Thomas Woolsey and Charles Richardson halved with Michael Canty and Philip Bickerton (captain).

Gerald Powell and David Chapman beat Thomas Smith and John Gibbons 11 and 10.

Johannes Smit and James Partington lost to Simon Chambers and Simon James 8 and 7.

Amir Habibi and Edward Zaayman (captain) beat Oliver Stephen and Ritchie Balmer 9 and 8.

Singles (36 holes)

Zaayman beat Bickerton one up, Smit lost to Oddy 6 and 5, Nelson halved with Canty, Habibi halved with Locke, Richardson beat Chambers 2 and 1, Powell beat Gibbons 4 and 3, Chapman beat James 7 and 6, Woolsey beat Smith 7 and 6, Partington lost to Stephen 2 and 1, Stewart lost to Balmer 3 and 2.

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