MELTHAM are guaranteed at least three players through to the quarter-finals of the Examiner Matchplay Tournament.
This week’s second-round draw paired four of them together, while Ian Saxton was the lucky man to be picked out for a bye into the last eight.
The Thick Hollins club’s members are great supporters of the annual Examiner competition, now in its ninth year, and this year was no exception with six players entering the event – all of whom remain in contention after each won their first round matches over 36 holes.
Former Overseas Challenge winner Steve Whiteley had one of the closest victories out of the Meltham sextet, as he came from three down against Steve Williams at Longley Park to win by one hole, while his club colleague Saxton beat one of last year’s semi-finalists, Paul Marsland, at Crosland Heath in a tough tussle.
Having led by four holes after playing the first round at Meltham, Saxton then went five up at the Heath before Marsland battled back to cut the deficit, and it was only when Saxton eagled the 15th that he began to pull away again, finishing with a 2 & 1 victory.
Saxton, who was last year’s club captain at Meltham, can now sit back and wait to see who he faces in the quarter-finals, after being drawn out as the one bye in the second round, leaving him just one match away from appearing in the finals day, which this year takes places at Woodsome Hall on Thursday, September 20.
Two of the biggest Meltham winners were Chris Holmes and Michael Cooke, beating Crosland Heath opponents Peter Sykes and Richard Wimpenny respectively, and both with plenty to spare.
Dave Law knocked out another former champion Tommy Ward after taking a six-hole lead away from the first 18 at Meltham.
And Jack Thewlis overhauled Outlane’s David Makin, despite finding himself three down at Slack Lane.
Back at Meltham, Thewlis turned matters round by levelling the match after nine holes and then going on to win 4&3.
Current Examiner Matchplay champion Andy Mear, from Cleckheaton, beat another ex-champion Brian Verity 5 & 3 after the Woodhall Hills player was two down over is own course, while Woodhall’s Sean Acaster (a finalist in 2010) was edged out on the 19th by Longley Park’s Ian Colleton.
Huddersfield have three players in the tournament, all of whom made it through to the quarters, with Jonny Heyes beating Gary Shuttleworth 6 & 5, although it was closer than the score suggests.
Heyes was grateful for a three-hole lead at the halfway point over his own course after the Bradley Hall man three-putted the 17th and then lost his ball on the final hole at Fixby.
The second half was played in torrential rain, and Heyes admits to just keeping his head above the water to finish the tie on the 31st.
His close friend and clubmate Nick Wilson (the first-ever winner of the Matchplay title) turned round a three-hole deficit against Arthur Henshaw to finish two up at the halfway point, only to be pulled back to level early in the round at Fixby.
Wilson, however, used his experience and home knowledge to again gain the initiative and went on to win 6 & 4, while Keith Stones beat Crosland Heath’s Noel Ward 5 & 3 after being eight up at Fixby.
Ward hit back hard at the Heath however, with a succession of gross pars and a birdie in atrocious weather conditions to get back to just three down, before his fightback came to an end at the 14th and 15th to give Stones the win.
Two-time champion Denis Walters defeated Eddie Doherty 4 & 3, while Bradley Park’s Daz Johnston knocked out another ex-champion Paddy Carmody from Woodsome Hall by the same margin.
Simon Whitham is the sole remaining Crosland Heath entry out of the five starters, as he defeated Woolley’s Jon Taylor 2 & 1, while Taylor’s clubmate Corie Johnson beat Longley’s Steve Hnatkiwskyj 6 & 5.
The pick of the second round looks to be defending champion Mear’s visit to Fixby to tackle Heyes, while another of the strong contenders, Chris Holmes, will have his work cut out giving Keith Stones 12 shots start, although the former does have home advantage.