GOLF: Tour pair trump foursomes again

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The Independent Online

reports from Sunningdale

Richard Boxall and Derrick Cooper, a southerner and a northerner who have been known to share a pint or six on the European Tour, popped open the champagne yesterday evening when they won the Sunningdale Foursomes. Boxall and Cooper, who won the title in 1992, became only the fifth pair in the 54 years of the tournament to win it twice.

No partnership has ever won this unique event three times and the holders will defend next year. "All I can say is that playing foursomes in the Ryder Cup must be horrendous," Boxall remarked. "We'll have to get on the phone to Bernard [Gallacher]."

After seven rounds in four days, the winners - each pair paid £86 to enter - won, as professionals, £2,000 each, although nobody mentions the money. Both have earned 20 times that amount in single victories on the Tour. So why do they enter?

"Look at that honours board," Cooper said in the clubhouse bar. "If you win a pro event the money goes into the bank and that's that. When we're pushing up daisies our names will be on that board. You can't put a price on that."

Boxall, from nearby Camberley, and Cooper, from Warrington, defeated the Sheffield brothers Malcolm and Iain Mackenzie 2 and 1 in an absorbing final. "We hardly ever get a chance to play match-play let alone team match-play," Boxall said. "It's great fun. At least it starts out being great fun but the further you go the more determined you become not to lose. It takes some winning."

The pivotal hole yesterday was the par-five 14th. The match was all square and Boxall's drive found a bunker on the right. Cooper hit a six-iron out of the sand about 170 yards to the fringe of the green. Malcolm Mackenzie, a fellow traveller on the European Tour, was also on the fringe, some 60 feet from the flag. He putted to within six inches for a birdie four. Boxall, from 50 feet, holed his putt for an eagle three. "I was just trying to get it close," he admitted.

Thereafter they were never threatened and when Iain and Malcolm both found bunkers on the 17th the game was up. Boxall and Cooper had to concede only one shot, at the redoubtable 12th, and the Yorkshiremen capitalised on it. Iain, a 40-year-old baker in the family firm at Hillsborough, dropped his brother into the heather to the right of the green: Malcolm chipped brilliantly, six feet past and Iain sank the putt for a four net three to go one up.

The downside for Malcolm came almost immediately. His brother's tee shot at the short 13th rolled into a little ditch at the back of the green and Malcolm duffed the chip. Boxall, who was 10 feet from the pin, was not required to putt. After being conceded the hole he had a practice putt and made it. It kept his eye in for the monster he faced on the next green.

Boxall and Cooper were five under par in the final and were seven under for 15 holes over the Old Course in the morning.

At lunchtime Boxall and Cooper did what they had done throughout the week. They adjourned to the nearby Chequers public house for refreshment before the final. "We didn't dare change a winning habit," Boxall said.

SUNNINGDALE FOURSOMES (Old Course, Sunningdale Golf Club, Berkshire; handicaps in brackets): Semi-finals: I Mackenzie (Hallamshire) and M Mackenzie (Hillsborough, +1) bt J Little (Moor Park) and G Evans (Ealing, scr) 3 and 2; D Cooper (Birchwood) and R Boxall (Camberley Heath, +2) bt D King and T Craik (Frilford Heath, 2) 5 and 3. Final: Cooper and Boxall bt Mackenzie and Mackenzie 2 and 1.