Saturday is when the tournament takes shape. All the action moves to Deal, which is the spiritual home of the Hewitt and as the field is whittled down the event matures from an exhausting social whirl into a more intimate affair. At the same time, the pressure begins to mount.
The weather for the day was bright and chilly with only a gentle breeze.
The morning matches were completed without any major shocks. The Charterhouse vs Malvern match was always going to be the outstanding fixture and Charterhouse came out on top thanks to some impressive putting. I watched the second game in which Benka and Caldwell disposed of Beeson and Timberlake by 2 & 1. I then dropped back to game 3 just in time to see Gus Giddins hole the match winning putt.
The Charterhouse victory ensured that Mark Benka would play his 100th Hewitt match in the afternoon quarter-final against Loretto. It’s impossible to spoil a Carthusian party and even the fact that they had lost 4-1 in the afternoon failed to dampen their spirits after the presentation of the Centurions’ Salvers. Mark follows his father Peter who played his 100th game in 1998 and they have become the first father and son to achieve this milestone.
Mark Benka (properly attired) with his Carthusian team mates and the Centurions’ Salvers
In the top half of the draw, Tonbridge were victorious over Watson’s in the other high profile quarter-final by 3-2. The deciding match went to the 19th and provided a Jean van der Velde moment when Watson’s, attempting to recover from a wayward tee-shot, failed to clear the ditch and then attempted to play from it – thus affording their fellow Scots from Edinburgh Academy, who were watching from the balcony, some welcome amusement. Needless to say that after two swipes the match was conceded.
Watson’s refusing to surrender in spite of the ditch.
At the end of the day we were left with a semi-final line up of Tonbridge vs Radley and Loretto vs Haileybury. Radley were runners’ up in 2016 so have been here recently. Haileybury have been here before but it feels like ancient history so this is new territory for the players if not their supporters.
It feels like a Tonbridge vs Loretto final is looming. The Tonbridge side are not in the full flush of youth and the fact that the draw meant they only had to play 18 holes on Day 3 might well prove to have been serendipitous.