Smith Proves Presidential Again!
The field for the President’s Cup was arguably the strongest ever to line up for a CA tournament at Bath in the modern era with handicaps ranging from -0.5 to 2.5.
The defending champion, Richard M Smith from Bristol, was rocked in the opening round by a defeat against Gabrielle Higgins playing precision croquet of the finest order. Andrew Willis, playing on his home lawns, snatched what he admitted was an undeserved victory in the final minutes of his opening match against last year’s runner-up, Richard H Smith from Bowdon.
Having won the battle of the minus players against Jim Field in the opening round, Kevin Carter notched up another win against Andrew in the next round. Gabrielle played Carol Smith in the second round which was a repeat of the final of last year’s Women’s Championship, only this time Gabrielle emerged the winner. It was back to business as normal for the holder as he won against Mike Hammelev who struggled for form throughout the weekend.
Kevin remained undefeated after Day 1 which proved to be a long day for some. Gabrielle ended the day on three wins out of four having succumbed to Kevin in the third round. The defending champion (Richard M Smith) had battled back after his opening defeat to also end the day with three wins out of four and he was to win what proved to be a critical match against Kevin in the morning on Day 2.
The manager had offered a bottle of wine to the player with the most peels on Day 2 and this appeared to inspire Jim as he returned to winning ways against Carol in the morning on Day 2 with some audacious but probably unecessary peels along the way. Andrew pulled off a surprising and yet decisive victory against Gabrielle in the next round which left Kevin and Richard M Smith on five wins and Andrew and Gabrielle on four wins with just one round left to play.
A return to form for Carol put paid to Kevin’s chances in the final round and similarly any hope of a tournament victory for Andrew was denied by Jim. Gabrielle finished her weekend with a win against Mike who was still not playing at his best but this was not enough for Gabrielle to snatch the trophy from Richard M Smith who finished his weekend with a narrow victory against his resilient namesake leaving him with six wins out of a possible seven.
Having accepted the President’s Cup from Bob Whitaker, it was just left to Richard to thank the Tournament Manager, Roger Hayes. Will anyone be able to deny him a hat-trick of victories?