The final 16 pairings have secured their places in next month’s grand final of The Matchplay Championship to be played at the Marriott Taba Heights Beach Resort, in Egypt, after another titanic battle in the northern final at Marriott Hollins Hall, in Yorkshire.
In front of the Sky Sports cameras the Lancashire-based pairing of John Hughes and Gary Byrne (Rossendale Golf Club) led home the qualifiers, but once again, in a repeat of the situation in the southern final at Marriott St Pierre, the final qualifying place was decided on countback.
Three pairings finished level on 41 Stableford points, five adrift of Hughes and Byrne which meant it all came down to who had the best return on the back nine – and that was the Hampshire pairing of Mark Parsons and Sean Byrne (Meon Valley Golf & Country Club) who scored 21 points on the back nine, while Scotland’s Iain Smith and Stephen Brown (Pumpherston Golf Club) scored 19, and Yorkshire’s Gareth Whiles and Ian Backhouse (Rudding Park) just 17.
John Woosey, managing director of The Golfer’s Club which promotes The Matchplay Championship, said: “We’ve experienced two incredibly tight grand finals – the tightest we’ve seen in the event’s history and you have to feel for the three pairs in the two finals who missed out by virtue of countback.”
It was more straightforward in the mixed section with Cheshire’s Steve Aylott and Lesley Mifsud (Carden Park GC) enjoying a six-point advantage at the top of the leaderboard.
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