Second week saw the blues travel to the outskirts of Birmingham for their first full weekend of the new season with matches against Little Aston GC and the Wigorns at Blackwell GC.
Little Aston, as expected, fielded an extremely high quality side with young gun, and +2 handicapper, Freddie Mills and club champion Martin Cook leading the offensive. Oxford hopes, however, were high with much faith being placed in the veteran hands of 8th year, and native Brummie, Jim Mercurio. The dark blues attempted to come out all guns blazing in the morning foursomes with some new, dynamic partnerships being tested. These included the homonymous pairing of Rob Van Wijk with Coenraad Van Wyk and the “little and large” duo of Patrick Cansfield and James Charteris-Black. The latter were able to put an early point on the board for Oxford but the rest of the squad, struggling on the rain soaked greens and still regretting the excesses of a club dinner the night before, failed to score anything more leaving the score at 5-1 to Little Aston at lunch.
With 12 points on offer in the afternoon singles, Oxford were confident that the match could be turned around. First, though, they had to endure a lunching onslaught from the Little Aston old hands who were determined to solidify their morning advantage. Several units later, the singles got under way with Reynolds, Mercurio, Van Wijk and Crummey all drawing on their experience to post wins. However, the only other dark blue point came from freshman Fergus Hardy meaning that the match ended in a resounding win for the home club.
The clocks going back on Saturday night afforded the team an extra hour of sleep before trying to right the wrongs of the previous day against the Wigorns at Blackwell. The AM foursomes started positively with Crummey and Charteris-Black scoring a solid win. However, in much the same fashion as the day before, the rest of the team failed to scalp any more of the Wigorns leaving the blues once again 5-1 down at lunch. Over lunch, the ominous St Jude storm closed in over Blackwell providing some wet and wild conditions for the afternoon matches. Oxford, knowing that St Jude is also the patron saint of 6-foot putts, threw caution to the wind, stacking the top order with strong pairings. With 5 of the afternoon matches in, Oxford led the afternoon session 4-1 meaning that the match stood at 6-5 to the Wigorns with one game still out on a now pitch black course. The teams crowded on the patio by the 18th green waiting for signs of the decisive final group. Finally, out of the darkness, came the unmistakable accents of the Oxford pairing of Bastianello and Mercurio. Unfortunately for the blues, the game had gone to the Wigorns, meaning that the match ended in a narrow 7-5 defeat.
Oxford will very much be looking to get out of the blocks far quicker next weekend at Royal Ashdown Forest and Rye, and hope to post two big wins to get the start of the season back on track.