TGI Golf claimed the Ashworth Cup in the battle of the buying groups as they defeated fellow golf retail group Foremost 10½ – 7½ following a tense two days at Celtic Manor.
Competing in a Ryder Cup style format the two groups contested fourballs on the first day, followed by singles matches on the second, with 18 points up for grabs.
Played over the Twenty Ten Course the 12 PGA Pros from each side were treated to the same experience as the world’s best golfers who competed in the 2010 Ryder Cup. Ashworth kitted both sides out in team outfits and they used the same team and locker rooms as the European and US players three years ago.
With the sun beating down on the Welsh valleys it was Foremost that put the first points on the board in the fourballs with David Wood (St Cleres Hall) and Gary Stubbington (Hockley) defeating Simon Buckley (Ham Manor) and Chris Gray (Cottingham Parks) 5&4.
Michael Nesbit (Westerhope) and Cameron Clark (Moor Hall) pulled TGI level with a 3&2 victory over Bill Noble (Cavan) and Paul Stoller (Ulveston). This was swiftly followed by a 5&4 win for TGI’s Craig Sutherland (Cherry Lodge) and Raymond Burns (Lisheen Springs) over Nick Ludwell (Selby) and Simon Lynn (TrenthamPark).
Gareth Jones (Sandiway) and Adam Constable (Cardiff) arrested the slide for Foremost with a 2&1 win against Nathan Stead (Shipley) and Andrew Rhodes (Keighly).
However, TGI Golf stormed back, taking the final two matches with Stuart Williamson (Clydeway) and Gordon Stewart (Cawder) defeating Chris Gill (Newquay) and Nick Horrocks (Staddon Heights) 2&1, while Robert Giles (Greenore) and Brendan McGovern (Headfort) despatched Darren Pearce (Barnard Castle) and Steve Carter (Walmley) 4&3.
For the second day the clouds gathered and brought the kind of weather more associated with the 2010 Ryder Cup as rain lashed the fairways with TGI Golf holding a slender 4-2 lead.
Gray secured an early point for TGI with a 5&4 win over Wood. However, Foremost marched back immediately with Ludwell securing a 5&4 victory against Giles.
Foremost took the lead in a number of matches, but Sutherland eased fears for TGI with a 5&4 victory against Constable.
Foremost’s Gill saw off Rhodes as the match continued to see-saw, but a spate of results went in TGI’s favour in quick succession.
Firstly McGovern claimed a resounding 8&6 victory over Stoller, then Burns snatched a 2&1 win over Jones to leave TGI just a point shy of retaining the Ashworth Cup.
Foremost’s Carter and Horrocks kept that point away with victories over Stead and Williamson respectively, but Cawder Pro Stewart claimed that valuable point for TGI to ensure they kept hold of the trophy.
It was left to Clark to claim the Ashworth Cup outright when he sealed his match against Pearce on the 17th to reach the magical 9½ point mark.
With the match secured the final two games came in with Nesbit and Noble halving their match, while Stubbington won the final game for Foremost against Buckley to make the final score 10½ – 7½.
TGI Captain Peter Hanna (Lurgan) said: “It’s both a pleasure and a relief to get the win as halfway through the singles we were down in six of the matches. But we had the strength in depth and everyone has come through and done their bit over these two days.
“Ashworth pull out all the stops to make this event an amazing experience. It has grown every year and it’s a pleasure to be involved and to have the opportunity to play at first class venues in a first class event.”
Foremost Captain and Chief Executive Paul Hedges added: “We offer our heartfelt congratulations to TGI on retaining the Ashworth Cup. The competition was played in a fantastic spirit and we would like to thank Ashworth for their continued support and Celtic Manor for hosting us so well. We will be working hard to try to win the cup back in 2014!”
“The Ashworth Cup is about celebrating a truly authentic golf brand but more importantly the event recognises two of our valued business partners in TGI Golf and Foremost. We have great plans for the brand over the next few years from a distribution, product and marketing perspective and the Ashworth Cup will continue to play an important role in establishing that important link with on-course retailers,” said David Silvers, TaylorMade-adidas Golf and Ashworth Managing Director, EMEA.