The A team

Brancepeth Castle’s Ashley Coveney and Andrew Howard crowned Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs champions at Northumberland Golf Club

After six rounds of matches in a fast-paced 2020 schedule, Ashley Coveney and Andrew Howard from Brancepeth Castle Golf Club added their names to the region’s golfing history books with victory in the Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs tournament.

Ashley and Andrew, who were one of 57 pairs in this year’s event, overcame Woodham-based duo Brian Robinson and Tim Carney in the final at Northumberland Golf Club with a 4&3 victory.

After holing the winning putt on the 15th hole, 21-handicapper Andrew said: “It’s a great feeling to be champions after playing in the event for four years and never reaching the later stages.

“I played some of my best golf of the year in the final, which managed to keep our momentum going all day.

“We’ve dovetailed really well this year, Ashley pulling us through games early on and me playing well in the final. That sort of teamwork was always going to give us a good chance of winning games and has proved really important all the way through the event.

“We signed up to play a bit of competitive golf away from our home club and we’ve had a lot of fun. To win the final at such a fantastic course is a really good feeling and it will be good to see the trophy at Brancepeth with our names on it.”

Ashley, who plays off a handicap of 11, added: “This is our fourth year in the event and we’ve always enjoyed it. This year is of course even more enjoyable as we’ve come through to the final and won the whole thing.

“The final was a lot of fun and the course was excellent – a tough challenge but good fun at the same time.

“We have played really well as a team this year, both of us putting in a big performance when it was needed.

“Apart from the final, the quarter final against Alan Clark and Robert Richardson from Beamish Park was a real highlight. All square standing on the 18th tee, we were both a bit nervous and under pressure but we made solid pars to see the game out. Winning that hole was really important and stands out as a key moment.

“We’ve met some great lads and had some brilliant games in each of the last four years, and we’ll be back to defend the title in 2021.”

Playing in the event for the first time, Brian and Tim reached the final with some superb golf, including a semi-final win over Durham City’s Steven Akers and Anthony Coates. Brian said: “It will always be disappointing to miss out in the final match, but the event has been terrific. All our opponents have been good company and we’ll be back to try and go one step further next year.

Tim added: “We didn’t play our best golf in the final, which is a bit disappointing, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the whole event. I’ll definitely be doing it again in 2021.”

In the final, Andrew and Ashley won the first hole with Andrew’s par four and never looked back.

Andrew won the third hole with another par to take the Brancepeth team 2up before Tim hit one of the shots of the day at the par three fifth hole, leading to the hole being conceded and the Woodham pair halving the deficit.

The sixth and seventh holes were halved before what proved to be the pivotal period of the match. At the short par four eighth, Andrew two-putted from the front edge of the green to make par and win the hole before Ashley won the ninth hole with a par five. Andrew then hit another superb tee shot at the par three 10th as Brian and Tim failed to make par and the Brancepeth pair went 4up with eight holes to play.

Ashley and Andrew extended their lead to five with Andrew’s nett birdie on the tough par four 12th before Brian staged a late rally, making a nett par on the long par four 13th before hitting his best shot of the day at the 14th to set up a par and win the hole.

However, 3dn with four holes to play proved too much to overcome as Andrew made a nett par five to close out the match 4&3 at the 15th.

Northumberland Golf Club captain Tim Weightman was on-hand to congratulate the players following the match. He said: “Congratulations to all the players who have been part of this year’s event, and to Ashley and Andrew on winning the final. We’re incredibly proud to host the event and have worked hard to accommodate as much golf as we can in what has proved a complicated and very busy year. It’s always great to showcase our course and hearing how much the players have enjoyed playing here is fantastic.”

A huge thank you to all the players who have been part of this year’s tournament, which saw six rounds of matches completed within just four months. Northern Golfer’s thanks also go to all the clubs which have given courtesy to visiting players for their matches throughout the season. A special thank you also go to the management, greenstaff and members of Northumberland Golf Club for hosting this year’s finals and presenting the course in superb condition.

Match Play Pairs will return in 2021 and further details will be published in our next edition.