Ramsgate's Tobi Savage hit straight and true all weekend to regain the All England GC Handicap trophy that he won two years ago. But the result was in doubt right up until the last of 15 rounds of games, when a virtual final could have seen either Savage or Sydenham's Simon Carter victorious.
The format was a straight 'all play all' between the 16 finalists who's handicaps ranged from Carter's 'scratch' to home hero Philip Holmes' 10. There was to be no grand final and the game order was worked out in so that all players played their nearest handicapped opponent in the last round, with the hope that the tournament would still be 'alive' right to the very end.
And so it turned out! Carter dropped two games on the first day and sat in second place overnight, hoping the someone would do him a favour and take a game from the undefeated Savage. Mid Sunday morning his prayers were answered, when Robert Staddon of Letchworth, beat Savage setting up the 'prospect' at least, of a final round 'showdown'.
Elsewhere David Whyte of Dulwich caught the eye, and from the higher end of the handicap range, scored a very creditable 10 wins to finish third over all, and late replacement Pauline Donner, who was apparently' tickled pink' to get the call-up, celebrated with an unexpected 7 victories to take her smile back to Woodhall Spa.
But as the rounds went by, all eyes increasingly turned to the battle at the top, where Savage's one win advantage could be equaled by Carter with victory in their 'head to head' match. Provided there were no more slip ups, a win for Carter would give him supremacy in a 'game wins tie' by virtue the 'who beat whom' rule.
When the time came though, Savage got off to a flyer and was already two hoops up, before cashing in his 'extra turn' at hoop 3 and gaining hoop 4 into the bargain. After that, he didn't look back and earned the admiring praise from Carter that he had 'played beautifully throughout' after he completed a faultless 7-0 victory.
The tournament was very well hosted by Colchester CC, and by Jane Collier and Ann Brooks in particular and so thank you to them. Also thank you to Colchester Chairman Dick Strover for his presentation duties (standing in for CA President Quiller Barrett who was engaged Hurlingham for the Ascot Cup).
Additional note from Competition Director Chris Roberts:
A very special 'Thank You' to Frances Colman of Phyllis Court, for Refereeing and Managing the Tournament with her usual calm efficiency. Going all that way to devote her weekend to ensure that the players had a well run tournament that the CA can be proud of as a National Final, was so good of her. Frances assisted me greatly with the Directing of this Competition, and put in many hours of planning work so that the end result was competition and final tournament that everyone hopefully enjoyed. But there is a price to pay for doing things well Frances - you will get asked to do it again!
Final finishing postitons (with starting handicaps in brackets):
1st Tobi Savage (1) Ramsgate 14/15
2nd Simon Carter (0) Sydenham 12/15
3rd David Whyte (8) Dulwich 10/15
4th Stuart Smith (1) Broadwas 10/15
5th Colin Britt (7) Camerton & P. 9/15
6th Robert Staddon (7) Letchworth 9/15
7th Andrew Dymond (2) Dulwich 7/15
8th Pauline Donner (8) Woodhall Spa 7/15
9th Steve Dennis (2) Watford 7/15
10th Susan Tilbrook (5) Blewbury 6/15
11th Martin Wroughton (4) Ashby 6/15
12th Farooq Malik (4) Dulwich 6/14
13th Ian Cobbold (2) Reigate 5/15
14th Philip Holmes (10) Colchester 5/15
15th Robert Laver (6) Dulwich 3/15
16th Jean Cobbold (5) Reigate 3/14