After three days of top quality play at Effingham GC in Surrey, the result of the 2019 event came down to the final two games on the course – a direct shootout between Yorkshire and Sussex.
Sussex simply needed to draw the match, a result that would allow them to become champions, while Yorkshire needed a win to top the leaderboard.
A moment of magic from Andy King in his match against Colin Jones proved the difference to settle the contest.
With Jones one-up, King was faced with an 80-yard third shot into the tricky par-5 17th. A large crowd gathered around the green as the veteran played a brilliant pitch and run and found the bottom of the cup for a stunning eagle.
When he then halved the 18th with Jones, the half-point in his game was good enough to give Yorkshire the title for the second time in three years.
After playing a key role in the 5-4 win to end the week undefeated in his games, a jubilant King said: “It’s hard to put this into words – what a brilliant effort from a great team.
“The chip on 17 was unbelievable. I hadn’t hit a very good 5-wood and left myself 80 yards to go. I played a running shot with a nine iron and it just kept going and going and then dropped.
“My emotion? Well, I just reached for my driver as I knew I still had a lot of work to do at 18.
“I knew my putt on 18 was crucial in terms of the match, but I didn’t know it was to secure the half-point to win the title.
“I won’t lie, it was hard to draw the putter back and even harder because I hover the putter behind the ball. But when it dropped and the team started cheering, I knew we’d done it.”
While there was understandable joy in the Yorkshire ranks, it was disappointment yet again for a Sussex side that has now finished second in each of the last three years.
Captain Rick Thomas must feel as if his team are cursed and the crestfallen look on his face at the conclusion of three fabulous days told the story.
“I’ve been here twice before and it doesn’t get any easier now we’ve lost out for a third time – and by just half a point,“ said Thomas.
“Congratulation to Yorkshire who played with real grit and determination.”
Photo © Leaderboard Photography