Walker Cup 2004

11 September 2004, Meadows

There were five contestants for the Walker Cup – James Hopgood (20), Robert Lay (12), Joe Lennon (16), Martin Stephenson (12) and Tony Whateley (20).  Robert, Joe and Tony had come through from Glasgow, while Martin and James are Meadows players.

Each of the players played all the others, with one having a bye in each round.  Eighteen-point games were played, with a time limit of one and three quarter hours.

All of the early games went to time, with Tony showing a predilection, which continued throughout the day, for conserving bisques, beating Joe on time with one bisque still standing.  This didn’t stop him from keeping his last bisque in his game against Martin until the last minutes of the game – this time, however, he managed to peg both balls out two minutes before time was due to be called.

In Robert Lay’s first game, against James, James kept him out for much of the game by keeping his balls well separated across the lawn, and used his bisques to get to five with his first ball, and take the second to peg.  Robert, who had had the first bye and hence no opportunity to warm up, was getting increasingly frustrated as he was unable to find his usual hitting in skills.  When he finally managed to get a break going, and broke-down at three back, he was thoroughly exasperated and convinced that he was going to lose the game.  He was convinced he was some way behind James on points, and time was about to be called.  When time was called in his turn, he very casually put his ball in front of his hoop, and left the lawn confident that James had won.  James, on the other hand, knew that they were level, but hadn’t realised that, if the game hadn’t been decided in his turn, a draw was not an option.  James failed to hit in, and Charlotte, who was standing in for Fergus as manager and referee, suggested to Robert that he should count the number of hoops scored before abandoning the game.  Robert claimed to be unable to do so, but finally realised the scores were level.  He made the hoop in front of which he had so casually put his ball, and won the game.

It was James’ first tournament, and he and Tony, playing with no bisques, managed the record for the smallest number of hoops scored in a game.  During the first thirty five minutes of their game, no hoops were scored.  The manager had begun to wonder whether there was a mechanism to decide the game if it went to time without a hoop being scored and if no-one seemed inclined to score the “golden hoop” after time.  Then James scored hoop one, and Tony hoops one and two.  It was a long time, however, before they finally managed to bring the score up to eight-six to Tony, on time.

By the time Robert played Joe, he was beginning to find his form, and got both balls to the peg with Joe well behind.  However, he failed to peg out one ball, and Joe hit in and managed to put together an impressive three ball break with some splendid split shots.  It began to look as though he might get the ball round when he blobbed in two back.  Robert won on time, without managing to peg out his second ball.

By the final match of the penultimate round, it was clear that the deciding match would be between Tony and Robert.  Tony had won all three of his games, and had to play Robert in the final round.  Robert had a nerve racking game against Martin in the penultimate round – if he won it, he only needed to beat Tony in the final round to win the tournament, but if he lost it, he would need both to beat Tony and to have accumulated more points in the tournament.  As time approached he was well ahead of Martin, for peg and penult, with Martin for peg with green and five with brown.  He failed to get hoop position for penult, and joined his balls up at rover, with Martin’s green ball at penult and the brown on the middle of the west boundary.

Martin, clearly challenged by this leave, played the brown and hit Robert’s ball at rover – no doubt thanking Robert for kindly leaving him such a perfect four ball break.  The spectators were beginning to think Martin had the game – and Tony, by now, had worked out that in order for Robert to win the tournament if he lost this game, Robert would have to win the final game +18 – unlikely, given Tony’s 5½ bisques.  However, Martin broke down at three back, leaving his own balls together and Robert’s well separated.  Robert missed, and time was called in Martin’s turn.  Martin took a long take off down the lawn to his hoop – if he ran it, he had a good chance of regaining his break.  It was a longish approach and he blobbed.  Robert hit in with his final turn, and pegged out his forward ball, winning the match on time by three points.  [Editor's note: spot the mistake.  Clue: Law 38.  Supplementary question: if you had been a watching referee, what should you have done if you noticed what had happened (a) before the players quit the lawn or (b) after the players quit the lawn?]

In the deciding match, Tony two-balled both balls round the lawn, leaving Robert with few easy shots.  Robert had one good break to two-back, but then Tony continued with his impressive two-balling to the peg, finishing with two bisques standing.  Tony’s first ever cup, and a handicap reduction to 18.

We were lucky with the weather – despite gloomy forecasts we only had a couple of showers and there was enough sun to make much of the day very pleasant.  The wind created more problems, with a large number of leaves being blown about the lawn – but some players found these useful as markers!

Everyone played well, and it was good to see that a lot of breaks were being played and players were working on strategy rather than just playing “Aunt Emma” with each other.  An enjoyable day was had by all.

Charlotte Townsend



Tony Whateley -- +11 +8t +14 +2t 4
Robert Lay −11 -- +9t +3t +1t 3
Joe Lennon −8t −9t -- +15 +11 2
Martin Stephenson −14 −3t −15 -- +11t 1
James Hopgood −2t −1t −11 −11t -- 0