Golf: McCue and Kendall eye Sentinel Cup prize
PLASTERER Ian McCue says seven months playing at a new course has helped cover the cracks in his game sufficiently for him to reach his first Sentinel Cup final.
The 41-year-old, from Cheddleton, started playing at Leek Birchall in February and was crowned club singles champion earlier this month when Andy Baxter conceded at six down with six to play.
And he has made his way to the last two in the Sentinel Cup after winning a semi-final 4&3 against former Congleton Town footballer Mick Biddle (Malkins Bank).
McCue says the victory, which set up a showdown with two-time champion John Kendall on Sunday (10am), was made possible thanks to his much-improved short game.
Call WHITEGATES Today 01782 209935 ..Limited offer. Available only up on production of voucher. Sell your home for £399 plus vat.* #EPC is required to market your home not included in offer.
Terms: *Upfront payment, non-refundable in the event of property remaining unsold, being withdrawn from the market or being sold by another agent, yourself or by any other means.#EPC £62.50 plus vat.
Contact: 01782 209 935
Valid until: Thursday, July 04 2013
"I've been taking lessons from local professional Sarah Gallagher and I've really come on a lot since I started playing at Birchall, where the greens can test you," he said.
"Everybody can hit a bad tee shot at this level, it's how you recover which can be the difference and I feel confident now, especially in my chipping.
"I've heard all about John Kendall and I know it will be a stiff ask to win the trophy.
"But all I can do is give it my best on the day and if I can produce the semi-final performance I managed at Wychwood Park, I might stand a chance."
McCue, who plays off a handicap of five, had a hard task just to make the last four having never progressed further than the quarter-finals before this year.
An epic quarter-final battle with Astbury's Ian Walker last month went to a second extra hole before he finally sealed his place in the latter stages.
He added: "That match was the main one in this cup run. I was three up with three to play when all of a sudden Ian kept landing it right next to pin.
"I thought I'd blown it, but held myself together through to the second extra hole when he put it in the trees."
The final, to be held at Trentham, will offer Kendall (Burslem) a chance to get his hands on the prize for the first time since 2004.
The 29-year-old former Staffs amateur champion, from Sneyd Green, won 5&3 against Chris Bowler (Blythe Bridge) in his semi-final clash.
He said: "I'm glad the final's at Trentham because I've played there a lot, but it's a different game when there's people watching. There were 100 spectators at parts when I last won the Sentinel Cup.
"It can be a bit nervy going through the first few holes while you get used to it, but it's occasions like this that you look forward to as an amateur.
"Hopefully the little bit of experience can work in my favour, but it's all about who produces their best form on the day."
Kendall reckons he has been saving his best form for the Sentinel Cup this summer.
The sports coach added: "I haven't played too much competitively this year. I've got some new irons and I've probably had the practice time that I've needed.
"I like the singles matchplay format of the Sentinel Cup. You don't have anyone to hide behind. The pressure is all on you and I seem to have thrived on that ... so far."
The Sentinel Shield final will see Paul Povey (Newcastle) go head-to-head with Neal Martin (Barlaston).
Povey, who had beaten Mark Shaw in round four, won 4&2 against Mark Lawton (Burslem) in the semi-finals.
Martin had to get past Michael Moore (Newcastle) who had lost to Steve Machin (Barlaston) in last year's final and ended up triumphing 3&2.
Martin, who plays off 11, had put Port Vale striker and 10 handicapper Tom Pope out of the competition in the previous round.
The 44-year-old car sales worker, from Trentham Lakes, said: "Once I got three up against Mike I could afford to play conservatively and make sure I didn't do anything silly.
"I've only played in the Sentinel Cup once before, losing to Mick Biddle in the first round, so I'm delighted just to have reached the final in the Shield.
"If I can go there and put in a good performance I'll be happy no matter the result."