Steve Tooth extracts his 1st win at Frilford Heath

Steve Tooth steps up to the plate to take his first win at a glorious Frilford Heath

A delighted Steve Tooth won his first professional tournament at Frilford Heath Golf Club near Abingdon with a solid 6 under par total of 138 winning by just one shot from John Bandurak and Dale Whitnell.

On the first day a brisk breeze swept across the Blue Course, which would keep the scoring respectable, and it certainly did with players, in the main, scoring around par. Carl Duke broke the trend carding a superb 4 under par 68 to set the first round target which few thought would be beaten.

John Bandurak thought otherwise and wrestled a marvellous 5 under par 67 from the course to establish the lead that was to last throughout the rest of the day. Tucked in behind Bandurak and Duke on 2 under par were Jay Beisser, James Ablett, Will Harvey, Chris Cousins, Dale Whitnell and the eventual winner Steve Tooth.

The second day was without a breath of wind to trouble the players and we expected the scores to come tumbling down and the early players upheld our expectations with Ross Whitelock carding a 5 under par 67. With several players trying to set a good clubhouse target it was James Scade who posted a realistic winning total adding a 4 under par 68 to his first round 71 finishing on 5 under par 139.

In the next group Steve Tooth dashed the hopes of Scade by holing out for a 4 under par 68 that gave him a tournament total of 6 under par 138 and he now had to wait for the final groups to finish. The penultimate group all failed to match Tooth’s score so now the long nervous wait for the final group to appear. The pair of Dale Whitnell and John Bandurak were the only ones who could rock the boat for Tooth and with both playing the par five seventeenth on 6 under it looked for the world that Tooth had not done enough.

Then for whatever reason both Bandurak and Witnell contrived to bogey the 17th forcing them to birdie the last to force a play-off.
Tooth heard the news and went to the putting green to prepare for a possible return to the links and a play-off. On the last Witnell put his ball to around 13 feet for birdie and Bandurak followed suit to 15 feet also for birdie.

Meanwhile Tooth was beside himself, convinced that one of them would hole out for a birdie and tie him on 6 under par. The news came through and it was good news for Steve Tooth who almost went into orbit when it sunk in that he had won his first professional tournament and earned himself a healthy cheque for £5000.

You often hear the phrase “ it couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke” and in this instance it certainly applied to this weeks winner.

There are not enough superlatives to describe Frilford Heath, with three great golf courses, fantastic practice facilities and staff that bend over backwards to accommodate you, why go anywhere else?

Mike Lowe, on top again

No one goes lower than The Lowe at Barnham Broom

Michael Lowe swept aside the opposition at Barnham Broom to win his second event on the spin. Playing superb golf Lowe spread-eagled the field on the first day with a masterfully crafted 7 under par 63.

European Tour member Andrew Marshall was Lowe’s nearest rival carding a solid 5 under par 65 to lead the chasing pack of James Ruth and Adam Stott on 4 under par with Gary King, David James and Paul Maddy sitting on their tail at 3 under.

The second day was all about catching the in form Michael Lowe but with a stiffish breeze sweeping across the Hill course that was not going to be easy as long as Lowe could keep his nerve and play sensible golf. 

Nick Pateman was the first to jump out of the pack and card a blemish free 5 under par 65 to lead the tournament at 3 under par.

Lee James, last weeks runner up, got his challenge going with back to back Eagles on 8 and 9 but failed to kick on, eventually finished on a total of 4 under par and the clubhouse lead. David James, who is at last seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, added a solid one under par 69 to his first round 67 that tied Lee James for the clubhouse lead.

In the final group Michael Lowe, with his brother on the bag, was maintaining a 4 shot advantage and with neither Marshall or Ruth challenging his position he had the luxury of strolling to his second victory in as many weeks and the winners cheque for £5,000. This brings Lowe’s earning to over £10,000 and on this form he will be challenging Lee James for the Order of Merit. The James Boys, David and Lee, shared second place each winning £1,250.

We are at the magnificent Frilford Heath next week playing the Blue Course so enter now or risk missing the boat.

We wish all 6 of our members who made it to The Open Championship, the very best of good fortune in their attempt to lift the Claret Jug.

A perfect ending!

Lowe Dumps the Monkey!

After several years of trying and nine second place finishes Michael Lowe finally got the monkey off his back and won his first professional tournament at the impressive Studley Wood golf course near Oxford.

The weather was hot on the first day but Michael Lowe’s golf was even hotter as he started with an eagle 2 at the par 4 first which 8 further birdies and another eagle followed on the ninth hole. Three bogeys punctuated an otherwise dream card and Lowe finally scored a new course record 9 under par 64. 

Last weeks winner Lee James, Trevor Jones and James Ruth all carded impressive 8 under par totals and were all surprised not to be leading going into day two. 

Michael Bush kept in touch with a 7 under par 66 just in front of Open qualifier Francis “Big Mac” McGuirk, former footballer Liam Robinson and Jonathon Poulton who were all on 6 under par. At the close of play on the first day some 41 players were under par and in with a chance of raiding the prize fund.

Day 2 dawned a little cooler and fresher with a slight breeze coming from the South West that was due to increase as the day wore on and so we were not expecting the heroic scoring of the first day. The first excitement of the day came in the form of a hole in one, with Michael McIntyre boxing his tee shot on the par 3 sixteenth and winning £100.

Former European Tour member Warren Bennett set the bar at 8 under par, adding a quality 5 under par 68 to his first round 70. Bennett was joined on 8 under fairly quickly by Chris Guy and both sat with a cuppa hoping for the best. Iwan Griffiths popped their balloon, soon after, by reaching 9 under with a flawless 4 birdie 69 and holding onto the dream of at least a play-off.

Of the leaders only Lowe and James looked the most likely to post a winning score as Jones stumbled along at 1 over par. James hit the front with a 3 birdie burst to reach 11 under after 15 and lead by 2 from Lowe who got back to 9 under par by also birdying the 15th after an adventurous first 14 holes!

The fat lady was doing her scales ready to sing as both Lowe and James parred the 16th to keep James 2 ahead with 2 to play and looking comfortable. Lowe being spurred on by his coach and caddie Matt Woods birdied 17 to reduce the deficit to one with the par 5 eighteenth to play.

Well what drama was to come with James looking favourite after holing out for a birdie Lowe was left with a 20 foot Eagle chance to tie and unbelievably, after starting the tournament with an Eagle he finished it with one and tied with James at 12 under par. Amongst all the drama Trevor Jones quietly birdied the last 3 holes to join Griffiths on 9 under par each winning £1,250.

The players arrived at the first play-off hole and Lowe, who won the toss, drove first sending his tee shot down the left side well away from the punitive fairway bunker on the right. James drove but his ball headed right and found the bunker leaving him a very difficult shot to the green.

James was first to play and produced a marvellous shot, which pitched on the front portion of the green but the ball gripped and spun back and down the steep slope fronting the green, leaving James with a very difficult up and down. Leaving nothing to chance Lowe played a sensible shot over the flag to the back fringe some 20 feet from the hole. James now knew he had to make par at least but a poor pitch left him 12 feet short of the hole and struggling. Lowe surveyed his putt from every angle and finally coaxed the ball to the hole side for a simple tap-in par.

James took very little time over his 12 footer and hit a weak putt which missed the hole on the right leaving a delighted Lowe the winner of his first tournament as a pro and a cheque for £5,000. James took home a cheque for £2,500 that took his season’s earnings on The Jamega Tour to over £20,000.

Studley Wood provides a wonderful course to play with superb greens and great food to eat with portions that would destroy anyone’s dietary willpower!

With Frilford Heath taking the place of the Magnolia Park venue at short notice we have been very lucky and it will be a very popular tournament so enter early to avoid disappointment.