Friday, 19 March 2010
Northern Ireland's Eddie Polland with face Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan in a classic north versus south encounter in the semi-finals of this year's Daily Telegraph/Sodexho European Seniors Tour Match Play Championship over the new Flamingos GC in southern Spain.

Polland produced a dramatic fightback when he came from three down after three holes to defeat Spain's Antonio Garrido 3 & 2 and then watched as O'Sullivan booked his place in the semi-finals with a similar victory over England's Denis Durnian.

The other semi-final will pitch Jamaica's Delroy Cambridge against England's Nick Job. Cambridge produced some marvellous golf to end the spirited challenge of England's Brian Evans, the club professional at Pinheiros Altos in Portugal, while Job crushed Scotland's Mike Miller 4 & 3 in the most lopsided quarter-final of the day.

Polland, the1975 Sun Alliance PGA Match Play champion, lost the first three holes but then started his recovery in glorious fashion when he hit a drive and a two iron into three feet for a winning eagle on the 495 yard par five sixth. He won five successive holes from the eighth to go three up and then finished the job with a birdie on the 14th and then his second eagle of the day on the par five 15th.

"When we started I thought I was in for an early bath," admitted Polland, who lives in nearby Sotogrande. "But, once I warmed up, I hit a lot of good shots. I am very pleased with my game."

O'Sullivan also came from behind to defeat Durnian in an excellent encounter between two great friends.

The former Irish Amateur champion, who represented his country in eight Home Internationals and four European Championships, lost both the third and the fifth before starting his comeback with a birdie in the 495 yard par five sixth. He also birdied the ninth to go into the back nine all square and then won the 490 yard par five tenth and the 165 yard par three 13th to go two up. The match ended when O'Sullivan got drove to the edge of the green on the 354 yard 16th to set up a further birdie that his opponent could not match.

"Denis and I are good buddies," said O'Sullivan. "We had dinner together last night and we said then we would have some fun no matter what happened.

"That's exactly what we did. Denis had the best of things at the start but in the end I got through because I holed a few more putts than him."

Cambridge and Evans produced the best figures of the day in a titanic tussle that went all the way to the 18th before the Jamaican defeated a man who had only got into the championship as a special sponsor's invite.

The duo swapped a total of 13 birdies between them. Cambridge took the lead with a birdie on the fourth. Then, the two men halved three holes in birdies before the Jamaican doubled his advantage with another birdie on the tenth.

However, Evans, a member of the victorious 1978 GB & I PGA Cup team, was far from finished. He clawed his way back to all square with birdies of his own on the 14th and 15th before Cambridge regained the advantage when he boomed a 305 yard drive down the 361 yard 17th to set up a winning birdie.

Given the standard of golf produced by both players, it was something of a shame that the match ended in somewhat inglorious fashion when Evans hit his tee shot into the hazard to the left of the closing fairway and then failed to scramble a par.

"That was one tough match out there," said Cambridge, the winner of two tournaments already on this season’s European Seniors Tour. "We halved five or six holes in birdies and any time you do that you know you have had to work hard.

"I am delighted with the way I have played this week," he added. "But I will need to do just as well tomorrow morning to have a chance to get into the final."

Cambridge's opponent in the second semi-final will be Richmond GC club professional, Nick Job, who overcame Scotland's Mike Miller after also falling behind at the start.

The Scot went one up when he birdied the 342 yard par four fourth but then lost the initiative with a poor patch around the turn. Job won the seventh with a birdie and the eighth with a par before going three ahead with further gains on the tenth on the 11th. Miller's travails continued when he had to concede the 350 yard 14th and the match ended on the following hole when the duo swapped regulation par fours.

"The match hinged on those five or six holes around the turn," said Job. "It was tight until then but Mike made one or two mistakes and that let me in.

"In Tuesday's pro-am I came home in 29," he added. "Normally, that means you will play like a dog in the tournament, but not this week. I have been hitting the ball well. Let's hope I can keep it going."

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