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.