THE HEREFORDSHIRE Golf Club senior team became the first county winners of Shropshire and Herefordshire's Ken Smith Trophy when they beat Hawkstone Park 4-2 over two legs in a nail-biting final.

They set up their victory in the twin counties winter team event for senior golfers with a fine first leg performance when they beat their Shropshire opponents 3-0 at Raven's Causeway.

Team captain Cliff Mawby and Neil Bell set the tone with a two-up win in the top match, and Roy Joshua and Ken Mallender closed out their opponents by winning the 14th, 15th and 16th holes to win three-up.

Roy Eckley and Bryan Matthews took an early lead in the anchor match but the Hawkstone pair reduced the margin to a single hole with a birdie on the 15th hole. The 16th hole was halved, but a Hawkstone bogey on the penultimate hole saw the home pair win two-up, giving their team a 3-0 overall win and a seven holes advantage.

Having overturned a 3-0 deficit, and eight holes down, to beat Lilleshall in the semi-final, Hereford realised that Hawkstone were capable of turning the match around in the return leg.

Mawby and Bell kept in touch with their opponents in the top match but eventually went down by two holes. The second match was tight all the way and could have gone either way as they stood on the last tee all square. However seasoned campaigners Joshua and Mallender kept their heads to notch a par-four on the final hole to win the match and clinch the Trophy.

The final match, although now irrelevant in terms of the outcome, was none the less a ding-dong battle, with Eckley and Matthews only succumbing to a par on the last hole to finish one-down.

l Team picture - Sports Times 9