BIG BEN Clocks Up First Pro Win

Ben LoughreyWrag Barn golfer Ben Loughrey claimed his first win as a professional today at The Wychwood golf club where he won in dramatic style after forcing his way into a play-off thanks to an eagle 2 at the par 4 last.

Loughrey trailed the first round leaders Sam Day and West Country legend Steve Surry by 2 shots after the leading pair shot 3 under par 69’s but with a tightly bunched leader board that included Dale Whitnell, Louis Hirst and Jamie Abbott on 2 under par it was difficult to predict a winner.

With a calmer second day offering an opportunity for some low scoring it seemed like everyone was going in reverse with no one making a dash for the winning post but then, later in the day things suddenly got exciting over the last 4 holes.

Having put himself in the mix following his opening day 71, Loughrey was in need of a sensational finish to chase down leaders Sam Day and Louis Hirst but as he stood on the fifteenth tee on one over par for the tournament it appeared to be a lost cause for Loughrey.

So with four holes to play and looking out of it, Loughrey suddenly found an unbelievable run of form and birdied the next three holes and holed out for an Eagle 2 at the eighteenth to post a 4 under par total.

Playing alongside Loughrey was Louis Hirst who had played steadily all day and finished, although in a more modest way than Loughrey, with just 3 birdies, to join his partner on 4 under par.

The pair then had a short wait for the final group to play the last in order to see if there was to be a play-off, or an outright winner and with Sam Day standing on the eighteenth tee on 5 under par it looked like the latter was the more likely outcome.

Any thought of laying up on the short par 4 and chipping on for an easy par and a one shot victory obviously did not appeal to Day as he pulled out a long iron and then sent the ball into the lateral hazard on the left of the hole, however, when found, it was playable, so Day decided to have a go.

He duly made contact with the ball but only to see it come up short and finish uncomfortably close to a tree but luckily for Day it was playable.

A decent chip onto the back of the green and a solid 2 putts saw Day bogey the hole and drop back to 4 under par to join Loughrey and Hirst in a 3 way, sudden death, play-off.

In the play-off, Loughrey had a couple of chances to claim an early win but it took until the fourth extra hole for the Wrag Barn star to eventually clinch the title where he drove the last green and 2 putted for birdie and his maiden professional victory.

After the dust had settled Loughrey said “The play-off was good, I had putts to win on the second and third play-off holes and finally got it done on the fourth.”

The Wychwood Golf Club is a hidden gem in the heart of The Cotswolds at Lynham near Shipton-under- Wychwood and it is a delightful, friendly and welcoming club with Tom, Jenny and Rob in the pro shop making sure things run smoothly.

The clubhouse staff make sure you are fed and watered well with delicious food and beverage that when the weather is kind can be taken on the elevated South terrace where you can enjoy an extensive view overlooking the eighteenth green.

A special thank you to the “Bunker Raking” members who make sure that all is well in the hazard department.

So please, when you are looking for a day out to play golf remember “The Wychwood”

Hayward makes successful conversion [UPDATED - GALLERY]

Tom HaywardFormer professional Rugby Fly Half Tom Hayward led from wire to wire to win for the first time at The Leatherhead Club in Surrey yesterday and set the pace on the first day with a 4 under par 67. Hayward was also joined on that mark by Ryan Hinsley and Henry Smart.

This tournament was also the final event in the third mini Order of Merit to decide who would get the ticket for a free season on the 2016/2017 Algarve Pro Golf Tour and the leader, George Mullins could still be caught.

The tightly packed leader board behind the leading trio would also ensure a closely fought battle to win the tournament would ensue on the second day, and so it did.

Jonathan Poulton, who is attached to The Leatherhead Club, was first to set a target, adding a 5 under par 66 to his disappointing first round 72 but that was not going to be the final winning score.

Steve Surry started the final round in spectacular fashion with 3 birdies in the first 4 holes but then the wheels came off and Surry eventually completed the front nine holes in 2 over par to fall back to one under for the tournament with 9 holes left to play.

Surry then could only manage 3 pars on the back nine because the other 6 holes were all birdies and he completed the final 9 holes in 28 shots for a 4 under par 67 to set the target for the final group at 7 under par.

In the final group Hayward and Hinsley were having a battle for control of the leader board with Hinsley 8 under par with 2 holes to play and Hayward 9 under with 2 to play.

Things changed dramatically for Hinsley on the seventeenth where he lost a ball but too his credit he birdied the hole with his second ball to make bogey but this dropped him 2 back of Hayward who made a solid par.

So with a comfortable 2 shot cushion Hayward hit the green at the par 3 eighteenth and a stress free par gave him a very well deserve first professional win.

George Mullins held off his closest challengers to win the free season on The Algarve Pro Golf Tour and there will be another opportunity for someone else to win the same prize when the fourth mini Order of Merit starts at The Wychwood next week.

And so the tournament of mixed emotions finished at The Leatherhead Club, with one of our longest serving players moving on to another career and one of our newest players, who made a switch in sports from rugby to golf, winning his first pro event.

Martin Sell, who started playing on The Jamega Tour some 11 years ago, has decided to retire from tournament golf and start a new career working for Taylor Made.

Martin won many times on the Jamega Tour and is one of our most staunch supporters but also a friend to both players and the Jamega Tour staff and he will be sorely missed.

We would all like to wish him luck in his new career and say that he will always be welcomed back, should he decide to play now and again.

Then we had Tom Hayward win for the first time and Tom’s story is amazing in the fact that he was originally a professional rugby player who suffered a career ending injury and then decided to take up golf.

Tom joined the tour some 4 years ago and regularly produced scores in the eighties but with hard work and tenacity he gradually got better and the scores came down and then he started to find himself getting into contention.

All that hard work finally paid off and Tom put together scores of 67 + 66 to win at The Leatherhead Club by 2 shots from a strong field and so the transition from Rugby to Golf was complete and we are sure, with his work ethic, Tom will go far in his new sport.

The Leatherhead Club is one of our favourite venues as there is always a friendly welcome from the helpful staff both on the course and in the clubhouse, where you can be sure of having a choice of excellent food.

Speyer Steps up to The Plate

Tom SpeyerTom Speyer won his first ever professional tournament at Essendon Golf and Country Club yesterday by a single shot from overnight leader Rumayne Stevens after a nail biting and dramatic last day’s play.

Due to Open Championship final qualifying a smaller field than normal assembled at Essendon Golf and Country Club to battle it out over two days and it was Rumayne Stevens who established a slender one shot lead over Josh Walsh and Tom Speyer.

A group of six players sat 2 shots further back on one over par and to be honest it was going to be the most patient of the players who would triumph over New course that was not giving away too many birdies.

On the second day Jerome Titlow found some form and posted a 3 under par 69 for a one over par total after his opening 4 over 76 but playing in the same group Sam Towler bettered that by one shot with a 68 for the clubhouse lead on level par.

George Mullins, who won here earlier in the year, and Nick Newbold both came home with one under par 71’s to join Towler on level par and with the leading group treading water it was not beyond the bounds of possibility that they could be in a play-off.

In the final group things finally warmed up for Stevens after a lacklustre front nine holes when he strung together some birdies to get to 4 under par with 2 holes to play and establish a 2 shot lead over Speyer who eagled the sixteenth to stay in touch.

That Eagle lit the blue touch paper for Speyer who then promptly birdied the seventeenth to get to within one shot of Stevens and so the eighteenth was going to be centre stage in the outcome of the tournament.

Indeed, the eighteenth was decisive but in an unfortunate way and it was to be a disappointing end to the tournament for young Stevens when he hit his tee shot into the right hand rough and lost it after Speyer had found the centre of the fairway.

Stevens had run through the back of the green with his fourth shot which left him a very difficult chip to a green running away from him and although he played an excellent shot there was no chance of getting it close and 2 putts later it was a 7 on the card.

Speyer had found the right hand bunker on the last with his second shot but splashed out safely and putted up to within 3 feet and he duly knocked that in for for a bogey 5 and a one shot win.

It was a bitter pill for Stevens to swallow but on the other side of the coin it was a delighted Speyer who has now broken his duck with a first win as a professional.

This win by Tom Speyer, after a tremendous battle with Rumayne Stevens over 2 days was heart-warming and just goes to prove that it’s not always the high profile, experienced campaigners who can win but so can the guys trying to gain valuable experience on the best developmental tour in the UK.

Essendon Golf and Country club was presented in immaculate condition and proved to be a testing but fair challenge and we have to thank all concerned for making us and the players feel at home at this fantastic venue.