Wind expert Franny McGuirk takes the title at The Earls.

Jamega's biggest ever 1st prize of £7000 goes to Francis McGuirk, at a windy Wawickshire

On to The Warwickshire to play The Earls Course which again was beautifully presented for the players but, who would make hay while the sun shone with our biggest ever first place cheque of £7,000 on offer to the winner?

With just the lightest of breezes it would be the early starters on day one that could take advantage if their game was on song.

We had the services of Colin (the Course Marshall) ensuring a smooth passage through the first hole and play started promptly at 7-00am and then it was a matter of waiting for the scores to role in.

As we suspected the scoring was going to be quite low in the benign conditions and sure enough Miles Mackman posted the early target of 5 under par 67 for the others to chase. Steve Surry, John Banbury and last weeks winner Lee James got to within one shot of Mackman, each of them scoring impressive 4 under par 68’s.

At the end of the long first day some 24 players out of the 138 strong field broke par, including local favourite Rory Kirwan but Mackman was still the king of the castle and would be looking to break his duck and win as a professional for the first time.

The wind was up on day two, coming from the prevailing South West, so the course would play as the architect Karl Litton intended. Simon Lilly and Ben Jones both added 3 under par 69’s to their first round 72’s to set a reasonable target of 3 under par for the leaders to beat. James Ruebotham joined the party on 3 under adding a one under par 71 to his first round 70.

In the final three groups it was Kieran Staunton who was making a charge with a blistering outward half of 3 under par 33 to reach 6 under par with nine holes to play. However his challenge floundered on the homeward run with two dropped shots that un-did all the good work of the first nine leaving him with the clubhouse lead at 4 under par.

The penultimate group included the experienced pair of Lee James and Francis McGuirk and it was McGuirk who was playing steady golf through the closing holes with par after par being tucked away whilst James was making no inroads on par at all. McGuirk refused a fairly simple offer of a birdie at the last and so settled for a final total of 6 under par and waited for the last group to appear.

In the last game Mackman was plodding along steadily keeping pace with McGuirk and Staunton over the front nine but a bogey littered back nine eventually dropped him down into a tie for 5th place on 3 under par. Mackman’s playing partner, Steve Surry going for broke trying to birdie the last for second place on his own blasted his first putt for birdie way past the hole but manfully holed the return to join Staunton and James on 4 under par each of them winning £2,000.

However it was McGuirk, who’s motto is “hit it hard, find it and hit it hard again”, who deservedly pocketed the first prize cheque for £7,000 with a fine display of golf over a testing layout.

With two tremendous golf courses and helpful staff providing a welcoming atmosphere there is no better place to play golf than The Warwickshire.

James Webber secures first victory in fine style

James Webber

Long and wet best described the first day at the par 74 International Course at The Vale Golf Club near Pershore, set in the Vale of Evesham. Wet referred to the weather, ” long” best described the length of time it took the competitors to complete the golf course!

With a par of 74 very few players were managing to get into the sixties and for some while and it was not until the later starters began to come in that par was breached.

Jordan Smith, Myles Pearson, Rob Bardsley and Stuart Hemming started to find a way to undo the par each of them carding one under par 73’s to briefly lead.

The James boys, David and Lee, stole their thunder and assumed the lead with 2 under par 72’s. Their pomp only lasted for minutes as the last group arrived at the scorers desk with first Ian Winstanley carding a 71, then Paul Streeter bettered that with a 4 under par 70 but at last James Webber broke into the sixties with a 5 under par 69 to lead going into the second day.

A breezier day greeted the players for the second day and it was James Ablett who set an early target of 3 under par scoring a fine 69 but with the final group all going deeper into par it looked an unlikely winning total. Kris Jones, Mark Hooper, John Banbury and David James soon joined Ablett.

Stuart Hemming set a realistic target at 5 under par adding a solid 70 to his first round but with the leaders playing unfaltering golf it was not going to be good enough. In the last group Ian Winstanley and Paul Streeter, although playing good attacking golf, could only watch as James Webber continued to match all they could throw at him.

Webber continued to march on remorselessly and even had the luxury of being able to score a rare bogey at the last and still win by 3 shots adding a second 5 under par to his first round effort. Streeter (71) and Winstanley (70) shared second place on 7 under par each winning £1,750 however it was James Webber who took the well deserved first place cheque for £5,000.

The Vale International is a picturesque golf course offering stunning greens to putt on and manicured fairways to hit from.The hospitality is boundless and with fairly priced food and drink it offers an excellent golfing destination for players of every standard.

Lee James wins again!

leejames1Wharton Park winner Lee James just pipped Ryan Thomas at the last

The brisk winds that have dogged the tour all year so far turned up again at Wharton Park near Kidderminster in the West Midlands. This time though we also had rain to contend with half way through the first day which made scoring very difficult.

With perfect greens that were the nearest I have seen to Augusta’s, offering the confident putter chances for birdies if they could hit the target through the swirling wind that was gusting up to 35mph.

If anyone could thread their way around Wharton Park in a gale it was to be James Ruth who plays his golf at St Mellion in breezy Cornwall.

Ruth was true to form and carded a 4 under par 67 which included a four birdie back nine of just 31 strokes. Will Harvey and James Ruebotham fell in behind Ruth scoring excellent 3 under par 68’s with the in-form trio of Chris Hiscock, Ian Winstanley and Lee James one further shot behind giving chase.

The second day was warmer, sunnier and half as windy so we assumed that the scoring would be more impressive than the first. The recent winner Andrew Johnston put together a fine 4 under par 67 for a total of 2 under par to establish a clubhouse target for the other players to aim at.

Andrew Jones shot a brilliant 6 under par 65 that was a pure combination of 12 pars and 6 birdies to join Johnston on 2 under for the tournament. Out on the course all the contenders seemed to be on 2 under par total for the tournament and a massive play-off seemed in the offing. Lee James and Ryan Thomas were making the only real attempt at grasping the nettle and win the tournament.

Thomas finished strongly with a birdie at the downwind par four 18th to take the clubhouse lead on 4 under par to ask the question of Lee James who, with a birdie on  17,  moved to 5 under par only needing a par at the relatively easy 18th to win.

James has played at the highest level of the game but winning is never easy as James was to find out as he approached the final hole.
His tee shot found the left hand trap that lay 320 yards from the launch pad leaving a difficult 135yard bunker shot to play over a stream to reach the green in regulation.
A poor contact with too much sand taken saw the ball stagger out of the trap to still leave James with some 100 yards to negotiate.
With his heart racing and palms sweating James called on all his experience to pitch in to within 10 feet or so of the hole and give himself the chance at a par and his second win on the Jamega Tour.
With Ryan Thomas looking on hoping to at least get into a play-off for the first place cheque of £5.000 James knew that he had to hole it to win it.
With everything moving except the ball James smoothly delivered the ball into the cup to win the £5,000 and deny Thomas, who had to settle for a consolation cheque of £2,500.
A newly refurbished clubhouse that is complimented by a golf course which has the best greens we play on all year gives the golfer a great experience and we would recommend it to golfers of all standards.
Our sincere thanks go to Alan, Stacey, Angus, Danny & his team for making our visit such an enjoyable experience, again!