Midlands Duo Keep Tension Mounting; GOLF: The Benson and Hedges Open at the Belfry Peter Ricketts Goes on a Roller-Coaster Ride with Local Hopefuls Paul Broadhurst and Steve Webster
THERE are about 60 of us, all dedicated Atherstone United fans - though in this case the sport is golf, not soccer.
Tour players Paul Broadhurst and Steve Webster are drawn in the same three-ball for the first round of the Benson & Hedges International and both hail from Atherstone, a few miles up the road from The Belfry. We are here to support them.
I arrive just after half time. At the 13th hole, in fact, where Webster is two over par. He was three over but got a birdie two at the 12th. Broadhurst - making his return to the circuit after hand surgery - is level.
Webster's tee shot is in the bunker on the left but plays a nice long sand shot to the green and two putts give him a par.
Broadie, after a good drive, shows a certain rustiness with a too-strong approach that finishes in a bunker and a modest sand iron leaves him 4ft short of the hole. We all hold our breath, then relax as he knocks the putt in. Can we stand the strain?
Webster gives us no palpitations at the short 14th. A superb iron gives him a great chance of a birdie. He misses it but at least it's a safe par.
Broadie is determined to keep the tension at a high level. His tee shot is on the bank, he plays a mediocre chip, 5ft too big and again we fear the worst. But our lad saves par and we breathe again.
No early problems at the par five 15th. Great drives give us a chance to get on in two. Webster leaves his long iron a little short of the green but Broadie's up to his tricks again.
His approach is too big and in rough on the right and, wait for it, he DUFFS his chip! While we reach for the smelling salts, he comes back into the real world and plays a nicely judged difficult putt and saves par.
Webster, meanwhile, is keen to get in on the melodramatics and contrives to leave his simple pitch and run 8ft short. Then he shows he was only kidding by rolling in the putt for a birdie. State of play: Webster one over; Broadie still level.
The 16th is not without drama, too. …