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News > Sports > Grafton Morrish Quarter Finalists

Grafton Morrish Quarter Finalists

With the 2020 tournament cancelled, this year's Grafton Morrish Trophy was highly-anticipated and the OS team didn't disappoint, reaching the Quarter Finals.
11 Oct 2021
Written by Will Radford
Sports

Featured

OS Golf Group

With the 2020 tournament cancelled, this year’s Grafton Morrish Trophy was highly-anticipated. We are grateful to the OS Captain, Chris Cornwall (2000 M) for the following report.

The August lifting of flight restrictions meant our UAE-based team members of William Page (2002 F), Mark Williams (1983 C) and Chris Cornwall were able to attend and compete, which essentially meant SVS could field a team. The remaining Old Suttonian competitors of George Palmer (2004 W), Jordan Miles (2014 F) and Samuel Wroclawski (2003 C) only had to commute 150 miles to attend the annual event at Hunstanton Golf Club, Norfolk. After three (passed) PCR tests, we all felt fit to play, arriving two days early for practice rounds and course assessment.

Wednesday’s conditions were an eye opener for those living abroad with 40mph winds whipping off the North Sea and 12 degrees (feeling like eight) wasn’t like being on Jumeriah beach! The Thursday practice was much more beneficial with the 25mph winds feeling relatively pleasant.  Half the team played 27 holes on a day that was supposed to be wet but afforded us enough hours of sun to stay dry before the heavens opened later on. With the tournament being a team event, three pairs playing foursomes golf (hitting alternate shots), the day’s play offered me time to try out different pairings ahead of the Friday start. Thursday night was the usual team talk, preparation, pairings and the first awarding of our newly made, ‘most valuable player’ jacket. The first recipient being Sam Wroclawski for a stellar performance at qualifying in May. The MVP gets to wear the jacket at the following event and wear it Sam did, with pink trousers and his old head boy tie, which was a proper old school boy look! 

Friday was game day and the English weather was proving unpredictable again, throwing a mixture of sun and rain. We had been drawn against the fairly unknown Old Loughburians (Loughborough Grammar School) in the first round, but we soon found out they had some game with everyone going down early on - luckily, heroes aren’t made on the front nine! With Page and Williams losing three and two, we had to win our final two games to proceed. By this time, Jordan Miles, who returned to our team for the first time since 2016 after receiving his amateur status back in April, was on the warpath and holing putts for fun on the back nine. Eventually, Jordan just had to roll one up close on 18 from ten feet to earn our first point of the tournament. Luckily, Sam Wroclawski and George Palmer had made a back-nine comeback too, winning 17 to go one up with one to play. With Palmer splitting the 18th fairway and Wroclawski safely finding the green in two, a par was good for the win and earned SVS a game against the Old Epsomians (Epsom College) on Friday afternoon. Epsom were former winners, regular finalists and one of the favourites, so we knew we had our work cut out for us.

A change of pairings for the afternoon matches meant Cornwall and Williams went out first - a strong pairing who were undefeated in the Grafton Morrish Trophy since the early 2000s. Page teamed up with Miles to create a blend of youth and experience in game two and the morning’s winning formula of match three remained unchanged. Off we go again and we’re down in all games through five holes. Cornwall and Williams slowly chipped away at their opponents with some deft long range putting from Mark and a bunker shot on 14 to prove the last ten years in the desert haven’t been wasted! A par down 18 after was enough to secure another point for SV.

The middle game had been grinding all the way around the back nine and after winning two holes to take the game down 17, succumbed to their opponents two and one. Now it was all on our final game. Sam and George again made a back nine comeback winning 17 to go one up with one to play.  A bogey on the last meant a halved match and tie of 1.5 points overall. The look on George’s face when I told him he was in the playoff was priceless (the halved match plays off in the event of a tie).

After a few quick sips of Dutch courage, George was almost ready to go. His partner, Sam, now looking pumped after his back nine exploits, refused to hit an iron for safety on the first playoff hole. Ripping the head cover off his driver, Sam almost drove the green of the 340 yard par 4, leaving George a short chip on to the green. After their opponents had a few too many chops in the rough, Palmer was asked to hole from close range for the win. With long shadows and a big enough crowd, two feet stood between us and a place in the last 16. Palmer made no mistake, slotting home with a fist pump followed by adulation (and a lot of man love!) from the team - a joyful walk back to the clubhouse followed by some surprised faces that SV had beaten Epsom. What a win!  

Our last Grafton outing in 2019 ended with a defeat to the Old Silhillians (Solihull School) in the last 16 and we all wanted to right that wrong. This year, we had been drawn against The Glasgow Academy, one of the strongest schools in Scotland and, again, former winners of the competition. With the conditions looking bleak, our Scottish rivals were feeling very much at home. Jeremy Baldwin (979 F) had finally returned from a family holiday and was able to join the SV party on Saturday morning and was paired up with Sam Wroclawski as the third pairing. Jordan and George were out in the second group with Cornwall and Williams once again led the way.

Another tight match ensued offering high quality golf to the ‘Grafton Groupies’ of Alan Wroclawski (Parent 1997-2003), Godfrey Palmer (Parent 1997-2004) and David Page (Parent 1997-2009, Governor 2003-2021). The latter had initially supported his own alma mater, The Leys School, but swiftly got behind the OS after the Old Leysians were knocked out in the First Round! His switch of allegiance to the OS was obvious as he tried to stand in front of our opponent’s approach on nine, unsettling our Scottish adversary and assisting our game! All of the games were agonisingly tight with the two latter down at the turn. Another comeback was needed!

Cornwall and Williams took control of match one with some clutch putting and Cornwall closed the game out on 18 with a 35 foot putt to earn SV a 1-0 lead. Game three had slipped away and the score was tied 1-1. Jordan Miles and George Palmer had clawed their way back into the game taking a one up lead down 18. After George hit the fairway, Jordan hit a pressure iron shot, pin-high to 12 feet. Two putts meant we’d made the quarter finals - what an achievement for Sutton Valence! 

Our last eight tie was always going to be tough for two reasons; our opponents, Old Millfieldians (Millfield School) and the weather. Millfield are serial winners of the event, as you’d expect from a sports school, and were the favourites on paper - their captain dropped himself and he plays off scratch! The weather forecast was a 90 percent chance of rain from 12-6pm and 30mph winds (which we believed would be a help for us) - the rain was coming down sideways. We stuck to the same pairings and order as the morning match and headed out onto the course to embrace the elements.

It was another slow start for SV (there’s a theme here..) with only Cornwall and Williams up at the turn. A huge back nine push from Palmer and Miles took their game to 18, ending with an agonising defeat leveling the scores 1-1 after Cornwall and Williams continued their undefeated run with a win on 18. Match three had been fighting hard all day but went down on 17, two and one. Bitterly disappointed, but knowing we’d surpassed expectation and beating some of the strongest schools, we couldn’t help but think ‘what could have been’ with a more favourable draw. 

Upon reflection, we had a magical few days, made some great memories on and off the course and are starting to put Sutton Valence School on the golfing map. In the words of Roderick Grafton, the event secretary and son of the founder Peter Grafton (1933 M, Governor 1971-1996) “Sutton Valence School’s trending in the right direction”. As our journey to etch the School’s name into history, and on the boards of Hunstanton Golf Club continues, I must sincerely thank the squad and our supporters Alan, Godfrey and David for their continued passion and commitment to the event. The MVP went to the captain, Chris Cornwall who was undefeated - played four, won four. 

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