GOLF: Wiltshire's heroes

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Pictured, back (l-r): Josh Loughrey, Garry Slade, English Golf Union director Graham Wagstaff, Ali James, Jordan Smith, Pete Bicknell; front: Robbie Busher, David Bauer (captain), Ben Loughrey Pictured, back (l-r): Josh Loughrey, Garry Slade, English Golf Union director Graham Wagstaff, Ali James, Jordan Smith, Pete Bicknell; front: Robbie Busher, David Bauer (captain), Ben Loughrey

WILTSHIRE captain David Bauer paid tribute to his side’s remarkable comeback to retain their English county finals title – hours before European golf’s ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in the Ryder Cup.

Bauer’s men recovered from an unpromising morning position in their title decider with Lancashire to lift the national crown for the second year running at Beau Desert Golf Club in Staffordshire on Sunday.

Wiltshire had never qualified for the finals until 2007 but have since done it five times out of six, winning the last two.

Marlborough club member Bauer, who took over from last year’s winning skipper Kevin Phillips, said: “It was pretty nerve-jangling stuff and it wasn’t looking too good at one point in the morning (on Sunday).

“But the whole team played fantastically well, showing great effort and spirit. We always hoped we could defend it, although it was probably more hope than expectation.’’

Hours later, Jose Maria Olazabal’s Europe completed an amazing comeback from 10-6 down to win the Ryder Cup in Chicago and Bauer added: “To win our event like we did was special enough, but we were thinking it couldn’t happen twice in a day.’’

Ahead by a point after wins over Worcestershire and Sussex in the first two days, Wiltshire were heading for a heavy defeat by Lancashire in Sunday morning’s singles until rookies Garry Slade and Robbie Busher turned their matches around to move them ahead by a point.

Ali James (Cumberwell Park) and Josh Loughrey (Wrag Barn) then clinched the point needed in the afternoon foursomes, Wiltshire winning the title courtesy of having won one more game than their rivals.

Wiltshire County Golf Union secretary David Lewis added: “It was just an epic weekend. It was fantastic just to be a part of that final day.

“We knew that we had a good side and the team spirit that they had was brilliant.

“It really is a golden age for the county and we don’t want to think about the future too much but I can’t see any reason why we can’t win next year’s competition too.

Slade, who lives in Studley, near Calne, said: “We didn’t get to watch much of the Ryder Cup until Sunday evening but watching that and celebrating with a few beers was perfect.’’

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