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Entries in Stephen Morgan (35)

Tuesday
Apr252017

Soo 09: US Holds 5-4 Lead After Singles

Yes, he hit it. Matthew Essick (USA) pegs out to cap a wild finish to his match with James Hopgood (ENG)

USA and England Split the Day's Singles

In the USA vs. ENG singles, England captain Samir Patel posted a quick +26tp, +26tp win over USA's Jeff Soo to tie the test match at 2-all. James Death (ENG) opened with a quick +22tp over Stuart Lawrence (USA). In game 2 Death broke down at 1-back; Lawrence missed and Death hit, giving him a chance for a sextuple peel. Three peels done, he missed the return roquet after 2-back, allowing Lawrence to take control for a +9tp win. James Hopgood (ENG) took the first game +15 against Matthew Essick (USA) after an exchange of errors; Essick was cleaner in game 2 and won +9tp. Meanwhile, Lawrence played well to reach peg and 4-back, but Death hit and contrived an elegant triple peel to take the match, +5tp in the third. This put England up by one.

ROUND TWO PHOTO GALLERY

Jamie Burch (ENG) ignored expert opinion and TPO'd David Maloof (USA) in game 1. Maloof shot well but never quite pulled together a three-ball break, Burch winning +9tpo. Maloof controlled game 2 for +25. Maloof had the first break in the decider; Burch hit the lift. He had a go at peeling Maloof's backward ball through hoop 1, but then missed his pioneer at hoop 5. But Maloof's shot missed, hit the hoop, and stayed on court. Burch made an NSL, Maloof missed, and Burch closed out the match +17tp, extending England's lead to 4-2.

In the first of the late-starting matches, Stephen Mulliner (ENG) won game 1 by +24tp against USA captain Danny Huneycutt. Huneycutt equalized in a scrappy game 2, +13. Ben Rothman (USA) won the opener against David Maugham (ENG) +17tp. Essick vs. Hopgood devolved into a remarkable exchange of errors and hit-ins, Essick finally putting the match away +7, bringing USA back to within one. Mulliner attempted a TPO in game 3, which quickly became a delayed peel attempt and finally a straight double. Two peels done, he managed a good enough contact leave to keep Huneycutt from scoring, and hit on the next turn. But a hampered shot after 1 gave control to Huneycutt, who finished +13 to tie the test match at 4-all. Maugham likewise attempted a TPO in game 2, breaking down with two peels done; Rothman finished +20 to give USA the end-of-day lead at 5-4.

Australia Has Another Winning Day

Robert & Malcolm Fletcher (AUS) each had a triple peel in a +26tp, +17tp win over Paddy Chapman & Aiken Hakes (NZ), extending Australia's lead to 3-1. Greg Fletcher's undefeated run came to an end today, he and Simon Hockey (AUS) losing to Joe Hogan and Chris Shilling (NZ), +26tp, +17, Shilling doing the triple in game 1. Jenny Clarke & Harps Tahurangi (NZ) won a protracted game 1 against Ian Dumergue & Stephen Forster (AUS), +4. Nearly nine hours into the match, the Aussie pair leveled with an even closer game 2, +2. A little before 7PM, Dumergue pegged out to give Australia another 2-1 day for a 4-2 test match lead.

Sunday
Apr232017

Soo 07: Rest Day Coverage Plus Line-up Changes

The unusual outcome of a failed straight triple attempt on Day 4

Lawns and players alike will be given a rest today. Given the forecast high temperature of 95 (35C) this is a welcome break. Volunteers and officials will undoubtedly have some duties today, but perhaps also get something of a rest day.

After the excitement of two close test matches in round 1 all are looking ahead to the next round. Team orders have already been submitted to the Tournament Director, a day earlier than usual. Harps Tahurangi joins the NZ lineup at #6; Hakes, Hogan, Clarke, and Shilling each move up a position (Garrison, who has returned home, played at #2 last week). That means Hakes makes the jump to the top group and Clarke to the middle group for singles matchups. Shilling & Hogan will partner again in doubles; Clarke & Chapman have split up, Clarke partnering Tahurangi and Chapman partnering Hakes (thus keeping a MacRob veteran in each doubles pair).

The Australian team order is unchanged. England has swapped Maugham and Mulliner in the singles lineup, and rearranged the (arbitrary) order of their doubles pairings. USA adds Matthew Essick to the lineup at #5, replacing Morgan there and also in doubles.

Players have of course been focused on their own matches and have had less opportunity to see their next-round opposition in action. Peeling stats are a good indicator of overall quality of play. There are many ways to slice this data; here are the stats for each team on games won with a triple (or better) peel as a percentage of all games won. (This includes OTP games.)

AUS ... 89%
ENG ... 83%
USA ... 60%
NZL ... 54%

Obviously this statistic does not correlate 1:1 with test match wins, NZ having beaten USA. But it does suggest that NZ and USA have room for improvement.

Sunday
Apr232017

Chapman 05: New Zealand Wins 11-10

New Zealand's Toby Garrison on Day Five of Round One versus Team USA

Going into today, we held an 8-7 lead in the race to reach 11 points for victory. As it was a singles day, there were 6 points up for grabs and so we needed a 3-3 result (or better) to take the test.

The match-ups for today were:
Chris Shilling vs Stuart Lawrence
Toby Garrison vs David Maloof
Joe Hogan vs Danny Huneycutt
Paddy Chapman vs Ben Rothman

Jenny and Aiken were our late starts today, so were part of the support crew for the 'morning session'. Jenny was to play Stephen Morgan on the first available lawn, and Aiken to play Jeff Soo on the second available lawn.

The day got off to a fairly even start, with Danny taking the first point for the USA vs Joe. A short time later, I put a point of the board for NZ by beating Ben in a fairly close match. At that point things got a lot more tense...

Toby vs David had a very close game 2, where Toby took a 25-0 lead, only for David to hit in and go to peg, Toby miss, then David have a break to win - only to miss a 3 yarder when in control of the game. Toby eventually won the game to force a decider. In the third game, both players had some play, but eventually David dug out a truly exceptional TP to take victory.

Jenny and Stephen had a fairly high-quality match, with Stephen looking to be in excellent form, completing 2 × 6th turn TPs in his 2-1 victory. Jenny herself looked in pretty good nick, taking the second game with a tidy delayed TP.

Aiken vs Jeff was the very last match to start, at approximately 2pm. After a fast start by Aiken, he came to grief at 4b and penult after some bad luck when trying to obtain a hoop-and-roquet out of 3b on a delayed TP (the nailed-on hoop-and-roquet missed to the North boundary). Jeff had a chance to take the game, but Aiken got one more good chance and took the game with a straight double peel. In the second game, Jeff had first break, but after an error with the second ball it allowed Aiken to make his own equalising break, and then complete a very controlled TP to take the match.

This made the test score 10-10 and it all came down to Chris vs Stuart. Amid a great atmosphere, Chris played some very nice controlled breaks and excellent croquet strokes to take the match 2-1 after dropping the first game.

So NZ wins the first test 11-10! It was a great test to be involved in, and was particularly awesome for our debutantes, Aiken and Chris, who won both their singles matches. Both teams fought hard to the end - the Americans were very gracious in defeat and the Kiwis acknowledged that it could easily have swung the other way (and did multiple times through the day!).

Next on the menu is Australia in two days time :-)

Saturday
Apr222017

Chapman 04: Excellent Day for New Zealand

New Zealand's Joe Hogan on Day 4
An excellent day for New Zealand today! We needed a big result to get back into the test match, and that is exactly what happened.

Jenny and myself had a good win against Stuart Lawrence & Jeff Soo. Although we won in 2 straight games, all the players made some hoops and there was some interactivity.

Aiken and Toby had an excellent strong win against Danny Huneycutt and Stephen Morgan. Aiken did an excellent TP in the first game, getting the first peel before 1b.

The big upset of the day was the huge win by Joe and Chris against Ben Rothman and David Maloof - we had the goal of trying to take 2 matches out of 3 for the day, but to get all 3 was a huge bonus and got us back to level-pegging at 7-7 in the test. Both Chris and Joe played some excellent controlled croquet to take the match, and Joe hit two great 'final' lift shots along the way.

At the conclusion of the scheduled matches, Joe and Chris continued their epic pegged-down match (now in its third day) vs Danny Huneycutt & Stephen Morgan. From yesterday's position of H1 and peg vs 2b alone, Joe managed to finish without the Americans playing any more strokes. He played an immaculate 3-ball break to the peg amidst much applause, including what is perhaps the shot of the tournament: after running H5, he hit his return roquet into the jaws of H5 with a pioneer waiting at H6. He played a half-roll stroke at a pace that would have easily sent the front ball off the lawn (and possibly into the neighbouring houses), but managed to smack the croqueted ball into the peg, ricocheting across to beside 1b in the process and leaving himself a 4-yarder on his H6 pioneer.

Adding this result onto the scores, NZ lead 8-7.

Friday
Apr212017

Chapman 03: Solid Play Narrows the Gap

Aiken Hakes on his way to his first MacRob singles win
Spirits are high in the NZ team after today's play. We needed a solid day to put some points on the board after two fairly inconsistent days of doubles, and that is what we got.

Aiken Hakes playing in his first MacRob singles match had a tight match with Danny Huneycutt, going to 3 games. Danny had a chance to finish but broke down allowing Aiken to make his first singles match a memorable one by taking victory.

Another debutante, Chris Shilling played really quality croquet to defeat Stephen Morgan in 3 games. He sealed the match with a TP in the decider.

Jenny was a little unfortunate to go down to Stuart Lawrence, who played some excellent croquet to win in 3 games, with 2 TPs.

Joe Hogan, whose last MacRob singles match was 27 years ago, played some classy croquet (including a TP) but eventually went down to Jeff Soo in a close deciding game.

Toby Garrison (late start 1) had an extremely close first game with Ben Rothman, with both having chances to finish. In the end Ben took it 26-23. Both players also had some play in the second game, but Ben held his nerve also take the second game and the match with a TP.

David Maloof vs myself was the second late start, i.e. the last match to go on today. After David had a ball round to 4-back early in game 1, he didn't have much play after that and I took the match in two straight games (and a very lucky finish to a TP in the second).

The match score stands at 7-4 to the USA at the end of today's play, with still the one doubles match (from yesterday) unfinished.

The Chris Shilling & Joe Hogan vs Danny Huneycutt & Stephen Morgan doubles match re-started again this evening at around 4pm, and the kiwis managed to level the score at 1-1 with another excellent finishing turn by Chris. In the decider, the kiwis had the first ball to 4b, but the Americans hit the lift and joined them on 4b. After that there was a wee bit of interaction until Danny managed to get a delayed TP under control - only to come to grief at 2b with 2 peels done. This allowed Chris to complete the SPO on Stephen's ball. The state of play at the moment is:

Danny - 2b
Stephen - box
vs
Joe - H1
Chris - peg

The kiwis are laid up about 10yd North of C4 with Danny having just missed a shot at them from near C2. The match will be completed when time allows - it may yet prove crucial to the result of this test match. There is still all to play for.

Tuesday
Apr182017

Chapman 01: A Fair Result on Day One

Defenders of the Shield: Team New ZealandThe New Zealand team have now been in Rancho Mirage four days, with most of this taken up with practising on the picturesque lawns of the Mission Hills Croquet Llub. Our team comprises Jenny Clarke (captain), Joe Hogan, Toby Garrison, Aiken Hakes, Chris Shilling, Harps Tahurangi (week 2 onwards) and myself.

ROUND ONE PHOTO GALLERY

The Mission Hills club has excellent facilities and is a really nice place to spend time. Our impression of the lawns is that they are nothing at all like NZ playing conditions. The lawns here are soft and green, with very forgiving hoops. This means that almost 100% emphasis is placed on shooting, with breaks and large peeling turns taken somewhat for granted. We are likely to see some very short playing days, where all matches may be finished at or shortly after lunch.

Day 1 started in glorious sunshine (as per usual) with a very strong start by the USA. On lawn 3, Joe and Chris had a slightly difficult start due to their opponents playing exceptionally well in beating them “no croquet” - we will see a lot of “no croquet” games over the coming days due to the playing conditions.

Aiken Hakes and Toby Garrison also had a tough day at the office, although a slightly more interactive match vs Ben Rothman and David Maloof, with the Americans eventually winning 2-0.

Jenny and myself had an excellent first game vs Stephen Morgan and Danny Huneycutt, but with the wind picking up in the second game there were a couple of errors from both sides before Jenny and I scraped over the line.

So at the end of day 1, USA lead NZ 2-1 with still 18 points up for grabs. All in all, a fair result from the first day’s play.

PLAYER JOURNAL FROM PADDY CHAPMAN

Sunday
Apr092017

Soo #07: Trifecta for Morgan

Stephen Morgan with the Stark Cup after winning the AC Nationals Singles Title
Stephen Morgan and Danny Huneycutt overcame a game-one loss to win the doubles title. Morgan then made it a sweep by winning the singles 2-0. Morgan becomes the current holder of three USCA national titles.

PHOTO GALLERY

Daniel Pailas won the singles Plate. He won his final game with a delayed triple peel to clinch the award.

The doubles final featured a wild three-ball finish, +1. The singles final was more one-sided, Morgan tripling in game 1 and controlling most of game 2. Soo had a chance to get back into the match after Morgan didn't quite finish another triple, but Morgan made yet another long hit-in to put the match away, +24tp, +16.

SINGLES KNOCKOUT SCORES

Quarterfinals
Jeff Soo 26-14, 26-5 over Danny Huneycutt
Stuart Lawrence 26-14, 26-11 over Dan Pailas
Brian Cumming 26tp-0, 25-26, 26-10 over Chris Patmore
Stephen Morgan 26-13, 23-26, 26-15 over Simon Jenkins

Semifinals
Jeff Soo 26-8, 26-9 over Stuart Lawrence
Stephen Morgan 26tp-0, 26-19 over Brian Cumming

Final
Stephen Morgan 26tp-2, 26-10 over Jeff Soo

FULL EVENT RESULTS
croquetscores.com/2017/ac/us-national-championship/singles-ko

Saturday
Apr082017

Soo #06: Morgan vs Soo

Stuart Lawrence in doublesThe remaining doubles semi-final finally finished, Danny Huneycutt and Stephen Morgan winning game two, which had been spread over three days.

The singles plate has a three-way tie on +2 net wins, with two more players on +1, so there's still plenty to play for.

I made it to the singles final and will play Stephen Morgan. Morgan will be looking to become the simultaneous holder of the GC and AC national singles titles, while I am hoping to pick up my second AC singles title.

The doubles final has already started. My partner Stuart Lawrence and I won game 1 +18. Each side has a clip on 4b in game 2. Huneycutt and Morgan have the innings, but we are next to play when we restart.

CroquetScores.Com Results:
croquetscores.com/2017/ac/us-national-championship

Friday
Apr072017

Soo #05: AC Nationals Down to Four

Ian HarshmanIn the singles quarterfinals, Danny Huneycutt's uncharacteristically shaky form continued, which allowed me to win 2-0. Dan Pailas gave plenty of fight but likewise went down 2-0 to Stuart Lawrence. Brian Cumming v. Chris Patmore opened with a quick Cumming triple, but Patmore fought back with an extended 3-ball ending and leveled the match. The third game was more error-prone, Cumming winning. Simon Jenkins v. Stephen Morgan had some similarities, particularly in the error-prone game 3. Morgan survived, ending an impressive run by Jenkins, who had started the singles blocks 0-4.

The singles plate is underway as a flexible Swiss. Jim Bast and Wayne Davies are undefeated.

The pegged-down doubles match had to wait for the end of the Jenkins v. Morgan quarterfinal, leaving just over an hour to play. The match has once again been pegged down in game 2, and will resume first thing Friday.

Jeff Soo vs Stuart Lawrence
Brian Cumming vs Stephen Morgan

2017 USCA AC Nationals Singles Knockout:
croquetscores.com/2017/ac/us-national-championship/singles-ko 

Wednesday
Apr052017

Soo #03: Tiebreakers Dead Ahead

Mike TaylorWhile there were some faster games today, there were still plenty of games going to time, including a 14-11 barn-burner in which Jenkins played Aunt Emma tactics to beat Pailas. Pailas has now beaten the top four seeds in his block but lost to two of the lower-ranked players; he can guarantee a spot in the knockout by winning his final game. A four-way tie for second place remains possible in this block. As does a four-way tie for fourth place. Which could also happen in the other block. The manager rather hopes that none of these scenarios transpires. But it does look highly likely that playoff games will be needed to determine the Elite Eight.

Some key matches for the final block games:

Huneycutt v. Lawrence: Lawrence is already in the KO; Huneycutt needs a win, or a loss from Bast.

Bast v. Osborn: An Osborn win and a Huneycutt loss creates at least a three-way tie for fourth in Block A

Patmore v. Morgan: Morgan is already in; Patmore assures himself a spot by winning

Cumming v. Taylor: Taylor desperately wants a win, although even with a loss he could still make a playoff

Jenkins v. Harshman: Jenkins still has an outside chance to make a playoff with a win; Harshman can guarantee at least a playoff spot with a win

Tuesday
Dec202016

2016 Croquet News Volume 3, Web Edition

The 2016 Volume 3 issue of the USCA's Croquet News magazine went to press earlier this month and should be mailing to members soon. The web edition PDF is also now available to USCA members on the magazine page of the USCA website (log in required).

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct302016

Video: USCA GC Semifinal - Abdelwahab vs Morgan

US Golf Croquet National Championship at the NCC in West Palm Beach, Florida - 10/25/2016. This singles semifinal match features Sherif Abdelwahab and Stephen Morgan in an impressive display of the tactical value of aggressive hoop shooting.

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Thursday
Oct272016

Player Journal: 2016 US GC Nationals D4

Yesterday's final day of the 2016 USCA Golf Croquet National Championship featured strong winds as several finals matches played on the the lawns of the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. For the main event, Stephen Morgan seemed relatively comfortable battling the conditions as he cruised to a 7-3 win in game one against Matt Griffith. But Griffith came back strong in game two to snag a 3-1 early lead.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct252016

Player Journal: 2016 US GC Nationals D3

The schedule marched on for day three of the 2016 USCA Golf Croquet National Championship at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, with the all of the events slimming down to only finalists for tomorrow's final day.

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Monday
Oct242016

Player Journal: 2016 US GC Nationals D2

The second day of the USCA's 2016 Golf Croquet National Championship at the National Croquet Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, was just as jam-packed with action as day one. In fact, doubles games under the lights were still under way when I left the NCC around 8:00 p.m. And there did seem to be one player protesting the extended action.

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