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Golf: Cryer heads investment bank.

Byline: David Morgan

Midlands in 2007. A young Worcestershire junior team represented the Midlands at the English County finals, Warwickshire won all the other junior trophies, Staffordshire's men and women were the best in their leagues and Matt Cryer (right) brought home a British championship, the first for some time.

All three counties know that senior success lies in developing top juniors and have invested significantly. Staffordshire's Bronwyn Davies won the Midlands Schools' Girls' Championships with a course record and played her part in a young side which reached the semi-finals of the English Ladies' County Championships.

With only Katrina Halford turning professional, Staffordshire captain Julie Brown is already considering the dozen players needed for the new, week-long, qualification process, a five-day marathon with 36 holes each day.

She will include the county champion, Enville's Rebecca Edmunds, while Warwickshire ladies' No 1 junior Abbey Gittings (Walmley) led throughout at Stratford in May before winning the girls' title.

Gittings and Warwickshire's other top girls gained team experience under new first-team captain Bev Belcher when the latter was second-team captain.

Kidderminster's Sarah Nicklin (county ladies' champion) and four-handicapper Anna Rock (girls' title) were Worcestershire & Hereford's individual champions. The revamp of the County Championships will see Warwickshire and Worcestershire face new opposition while Staffordshire have been drawn again with old rivals Leicestershire.

In July, Warwickshire won the boys' and girls' English Schools' Under-16 championships with Elizabeth Mallet (Sutton Coldfield Ladies) and Jamie Carney (Shirley) succeeding.

Next year, Rob Bardsley (Moor Hall) will captain the junior Bears after a 14-match winning streak in 2007. Boys' captain Sam Dodds won the Midland Schools, The Birmingham Post & Mail Trophy for Midland boys and the county junior title.

Dodds played some devastating singles golf as Warwickshire were unbeaten in their first four Midland League matches, three of them being away. For once, Warwickshire won each morning's foursomes until the last match of the season, at home to Nottinghamshire in October.

Having welcomed back new Open champion Rory Kirwan after injury and with 2007 Warwickshire Amateur champion Cryer playing, the omens seemed good. But when the Bears could not win a singles series for the third match in a row, Staffordshire were Midland champions once again.

In the men's County Championship qualifying, even Cryer's presence at his home club of Coventry failed to counter Leicestershire, the eventual runners-up.

Worcestershire juniors, under new manager Brian Peplow, were the Midland qualifier for the Junior finals in May after overtaking hosts Shropshire. Rudy Hercik won the Worcestershire boys' and boys' matchplay.

Individual Staffordshire champions were Mark Gayes (Westwood) and James Willis (Penn), the boys' winner. Gayes took the Staffordshire Amateur from former Belfry boss Rob Maxfield while Stephen Tooth (Great Barr) won the men's matchplay.

Warwickshire did the best in Midland and national individual competition. Having been injured just as the season started, Cryer was second in the Midland Amateur but did not qualify for the British Amateur in which Andy Sullivan thrust himself back into England contention and, on two courses made even tougher by the thickest rough, was a top qualifier who reached the last 16, playing sub-par golf for the week.

Sullivan survived two rounds of the English Amateur draw while Cryer reached the final before saying he didn't hit the ball close enough to the hole against Daniel Willet.

Then, in torrential rain and gales at the British Mid-Amateur at Alwoodly, Cryer 'survived' qualifying to reach the final through superb course management, beating top United States amateur Paul Simpson 5&4.

Cryer tried to qualify for the European Tour, without having to give up his amateur status unless he won a card. The first stage was passed comfortably before he had an off-week trying to reach the final 108 holes at San Roque. He will be one of England's very best amateurs after an exodus to the pro ranks after the Walker Cup. His performance in helping England win the Home internationals has undoubtedly pushed him further up the selectors' thoughts.

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David Morgan hails some amateur success in the Midlands this year
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 28, 2007
Words:677
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