YORKSHIRE were hit hard with the loss of county golf champion Nigel Sweet as they went into today’s big test at Fixby in the opening Northern League match of the season against old rivals Lancashire.
Sweet was forced to withdraw with an arm injury and said: “I’ve tried to hit some shots but it was just impossible.”
The Moortown man, runner-up last season in the European Mid Amateur, is 43 but still one of Yorkshire’s best and his experience is vital to a team which includes young players.
“My right arm is quite painful,” he said. “I’m not sure what’s caused the problem. It could be tendonitis and a physio I’ve talked to advises I rest it.
“So it was best that I pulled out of the side. It’s a crucial match against Lancashire which we dearly want, and need, to win.
“I didn’t want to let the side down – the team couldn’t carry an injured player,” added Sweet.
Sweet, among those stuck abroad due to the Icelandic volcano ash cloud grounding flights, being marooned for a week on the Canary Islands where he was on holiday, has not played for a quite a while anyway.
He missed Yorkshire’s three opening non-league matches and he has also had to withdraw from the York Rose Bowl, the Eagle Golf-Yorkshire Order of Merit tournament at Strensall tomorrow.
His place against Lancashire goes to Malton & Norton’s Chris Halley, while Matthew Fitzpatrick makes history in that at 15 he becomes the youngest player to represent Yorkshire.
A scratch player from Hallamshire, he represented England in the Fairhaven Nations Cup, an under-18 event, last weekend and placed in the top dozen.
A member of the England Under 16 squad, he finished second in last year’s North of England Under 16 championship, was third in the English Schools Under 16 championship and runner-up for the Yorkshire Under 16 title. He also finished second in the St Andrews Under 18 Open.
He won the St Andrews Junior Open and the Wentworth Under 14 Scratch Open in 2008.
Teenager Paul Lockwood, from Hessle, also makes his first League appearance for Yorkshire who beat Lancashire 10-8 at West Lancs last year, and former Fixby member Peter Fenton, a past English strokeplay champion who returned to team golf last season with the Bradford Union as a member at Cleckheaton, earns a recall to county duty after a lengthy spell during which he played professionally.
Yorkshire: R Law (Low Laithes), S Campbell (Hallowes), J Maw (Hallowes), D Wasteney (Bondhay), P Lockwood (Hessle), L O’Neill (Keighley), M Brown (Pike Hills), P Fenton (Cleckheaton), D Appleyard (South Leeds), J Smedley (Hallowes), M Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire), C Halley (Malton & Norton).