FOR MARK HILL it was the most nervous he had felt on a golf course since he won the world's biggest amateur competition five years ago.
Watching no less anxiously was Tony Gooch, Hill's playing partner that day in 2008 when they lifted the Daily Mail Foursomes trophy at Dalmahoy.
Only the week before their appearance at Portmore on Sunday, Gooch had experienced the tension of the Open at Muirfield as a bunker raker.
During the first round he raked for Rory McIlroy and eventual winner Phil Mickelson, returning home to North Devon with a ball with which the American had won the championship.
"They send one bunker raker out with each group," said Gooch. "You go out with that group, inside the ropes, and you walk with them. If one of them goes in the bunker you rake it after him."
Now Gooch was walking the 17th and 18th holes at Portmore, willing Hill on as he and Steve Baker attempted to clinch a place for Great Torrington in the semi-finals of the Palairet Memorial Trophy.
By defeating Holsworthy's Mark Bellew and Rob Somerfield 3 and 2, Gooch and Gary Petherbridge had put Torrington two up in their quarter-final after Mark Coles and Paul Wheeler had beaten Rob Moore and John Bewes 2 and 1 in the first match out.
That left Torrington needing only one win from the three matches still on the course.
Torrington's Paul Boundy and Mike McLeod were all square with Paddy Ford and Trevor Abbott after 16 holes, while Dan Copp and Reece Andronik were all square with Mike Daniel and Jerry Horwood after 14.
Hill and Baker would surely deliver the critical last point. Four up after 14 holes against a teenage boy and a 61-year-old who was hobbling with a groin strain, they were the obvious ones for Gooch and non-playing captain Ian Croxford to follow.
Warnings from Gooch, Croxford and former captain Geoff Green that they had witnessed too many turnarounds to take victory for granted began to sound like prophecy.
No sooner had Boundy and McLeod gone down 2 and 1, so Copp and Andronik fell by the same score.
At 2-2 Holsworthy were on a charge, especially now 14-year-old Sam Keyte and veteran Mike Richmond were clawing their way back.
Richmond had pulled his groin warming up on the driving range but, without a medical certificate, the rules prevented him using a buggy.
Limping around the 6,089-yard course, he struggled as Hill and Baker stood at three up with three to play.
However, the Holsworthy pair won the 16th and, as they played the 17th, news arrived this match was the decider.
On the 17th green Baker missed a 7ft putt and Richmond sank from 2ft to reduce Torrington's lead to one up with one to play.
Off the 18th tee, Keyte's young shoulders took on manly proportions as, seemingly oblivious to the tension and with the crowd building, he hit a fine shot.
"You find the younger ones have no inhibitions, it's the older ones who get nervous," said Gooch.
Taking the senior role, despite giving away 47 years to his partner, Keyte sized up the 5ft putt for Richmond that gave Holsworthy the last hole.
The match, the tie, would be decided at the 19th where outrageous bad luck would cost Holsworthy.
Although Richmond played his tee shot into a bunker, the cause was not lost until Keyte's first attempt at getting out saw his ball rebound off the tiny rake pipe and back into the sand.
Taking five to reach the edge of the green, Keyte and Richmond watched Hill and Baker get there in two.
Still some distance from the flag after six strokes, Holsworthy conceded, leaving a relieved Croxford to announce: "I'm going up to A&E now."
Comparing the tension with his win in the Daily Mail Foursomes, which the newspaper claims is "the greatest amateur golfing event in the world with more than 190,000 players", Hill said: "It was about the same.
"Going down the extra hole, that was probably the most nervous I have been on a golf course since the Daily Mail.
"With the Daily Mail, we knew we were in a good position coming into the last few holes and things didn't slip away.
"Today, when it started slipping away and you have four other pairs watching you, you have to dig deep.
"When you are playing a pairs competition (like the Daily Mail) you are just two guys but this is extra pressure because you have the whole team willing you to get the ball in the hole."
Baker said: "In the end we got there but it wasn't pretty. That is what pressure golf is about – you just have to think positive. Mark said, 'Keep believing and it will come'."
Keyte may have lost but he won admirers. "He played really well all the way round," said Baker. "He didn't hit many bad shots and, for a boy of 14, he played fantastic."
Great Torrington have built an impressive record in the Palairet Trophy over the last 10 years. Runners-up in 2003 and 2004, they took the trophy for the first time in 2008.
The first club with a nine-hole course to win the competition, which began in 1934, only Great Torrington and Saunton, winners in 2001, have brought the trophy to North Devon in the last 20 years.
Now Great Torrington will be North Devon's sole representatives at finals day on Sunday, August 18. They will play Tavistock, conquerors of Saunton in the last eight.
Green said: "We are a small club – in the region of 300 members – but somehow we get the fire into our bellies when it comes to the Palairet."
Until 15 to 20 years ago, Great Torrington had a poor record.
"You do well once and it raises the bar," said Green. "People strive to raise to those heights again."
Can Great Torrington take the trophy in 2013? "Of course we can," said Croxford.
Although six of the 2008 team remain, Gooch is less sure, if hopeful. "We are not as strong as we were five years ago," he said. "But some good youngsters have come into the team this year and they are doing well." The youngest is Andronik, 15, who kept his father, Peter, out of the side on Sunday and is following a path trod by Jimmy Mullen.
Was the 19-year-old second-placed amateur at the Open an inspiration? "Yes, because he started at Torrington then went to Royal North Devon and I have just started at RND," said Andronik.
Croxford said: "We are hoping maybe Reece can do something like that because he is a really good golfer.
"He is golf mad. He will play 18 holes, come in, then go out and play another 18. It wears you out watching him."
Gooch, who has been Great Torrington's head greenkeeper for 21 years, said it was the team spirit that made them into such a powerful Palairet force. They even had a bonding weekend in Minehead to prepare.
"It means a lot to us taking on the bigger clubs because some of them tend to look down their noses at bit," said Gooch."It's like David and Goliath".
Or like Mullen finishing ahead of McIlroy at Muirfield. Or like golf's greatest upset, when amateur Francis Ouimet beat Harry Vardon and Ted Ray to win the 1913 US Open. And like 14-year-old Keyte and his limping partner scaring the hell out of Hill and Baker.