Report of The Hurlingham Annual Tournament
The Tournament started off with The Centenary Salvers. Eight pairs contested this handicap mixed doubles event, with a handicap range of - 1.5 to 20, including several from far afield. After 5 rounds of Swiss, local teams came out on top: Mark Ormerod (-1.5) and Jane O'Neill (10), both Hurlingham, had overcome all, despite close games. In second place were Tim Russell (-1) and Adrienne Sackin (10), Roehampton, beaten only by the winners. Third were Hugh (2.5) and Veronica Carlisle (3.5), Hurlingham, with 3 wins. It appears that partnerships with lower bisquers prevailed, which may be evidence of the effect of the reversion to the old doubles handicapping system.
On Monday and Tuesday the Unrestricted Handicap Singles were played. Handicaps ranged from -1.5 to 14 and it was good to see both the highest and lowest bisquers reaching the last rounds. However, the lowest succeeded again and the Silver Jubilee Cup was won by Mark Ormerod with a closely fought 3-ball ending against Nigel Polhill. The Baillieu Plate followed a flexible Egyptian format, which proved popular, and it was won by the youngest entrant, Sam Russell, on his first visit to Hurlingham, with Tom Coles as runner-up.
The Class Singles on Wednesday and Thursday had a good entry of 32 players, divided into three classes with two blocks in each. The first day was distinguished by a first-time sextuple peel by Alain Giraud: it is noteworthy that this took place on Lawn 9 on the cricket pitch; nearby Jonathan Lamb did a first-time quadruple peel. Alain also did a QP on the front lawns and several triples, as did others. He beat Tim Russell in one play-off and Mark Ormerod beat Joel Taylor in the other. The final between Alain and Mark was spellbinding and the only A class game in which time was called; it took place during torrential rain and at one point it looked as if the lawn might become waterlogged. Alain seemed to have the game in his grasp but Mark hit in and did a triple, only to miss a 10 foot peg-out. Mark had a shot or two with his remaining ball but Alain took his chance and eventually finished with a two-ball break from 4 back, to win the Hurlingham Cup. In the B Class Turner Cup there were numerous close games but the outstanding player was Neil Coote who beat Don Beck in the play-off +26 (as Don reports, "5th turn to 4 back, 7th to peg and 9th to finish!"). Greg Solomon was unbeaten in the C Class Younger Cup and earned himself an immediate handicap reduction. Overall it was a happy two days and the last final ended in perfect time for the BBQ.
The Longworth Cup on Friday was a singles event for 8 players with handicaps of 10 to 20, played to base 10 as a knockout, with 18 point games. In the first round surprisingly both the holder and a fancied 11 handicap were eliminated. In the semis Hurlingham members Malcolm Beacham (14) and Mark Welby (20) prevailed. However, in the final, the more seasoned Malcolm streaked ahead using his 3 bisques well to set up breaks; while novice Mark (see below), chose not to use his bisques and so did little to prevent Malcolm from taking both balls round. But Malcolm missed his peg-out, leaving him with one ball, and the match went on for a further 45 minutes while Mark eked out hoops, playing a 2-ball break using up his bisques. Eventually Mark accidentally gave Malcolm a wiring lift, enabling him to hit in and win. Malcolm's break-building skill and all-round game made him a deserving winner of this, his first trophy.
The Hurlingham Open Mixed Doubles also took place on Friday, between four pairs. Clare Benson stood out as the most successful lady player on the day and she and her partner Alan Chance were unbeaten. The other pairs each won one game but Adrian Cunliffe and Carole McLoughlin fared best on net scores and were the runners up. Well done Alan and Clare!
The men's and women's handicap doubles ended the Tournament and were played over the second weekend. The Ladies Field Candlesticks were first played for in 1920 but the entries this year were down due to injuries and calendar conflicts. Elaine Phillimore and Carole McLoughlin, Roehampton and Ealing, seemed to be easily in the lead after the first day, but our own Sudy Harrison partnered by Adrienne Sackin from Roehampton defeated them in a strong performance on Sunday, taking the title. This is the second time this pair have won the event, and a third victory for Sudy. The Wine Coolers for the men were first awarded in 1968. Ten pairs competed over five games in a Swiss format. All games were keenly fought, but the clear, undefeated winners were Hugh Carlisle and Mark Welby. Mark will clearly improve quickly: his consistency and golf croquet accuracy were much admired. Andy Dibben and Mike Lambert came with a late surge to take the runner up spot. A good time was had by all and it was pleasing to see new competitors from Canterbury.
It is usual to find something to criticize in the weather but this year we had heat almost to excess, with serious rain on only one day: so we can hardly complain. It was another happy week and our thanks go to all the managers, office staff and in particular the Club groundsmen: they are truly remarkable servants of the game and provide continuing pleasure.