Andrew Johnston, smiling all the way to the bank!

Andrew JohnstonWe headed off to South Wales via the Severn Bridge for our third event of the year this time at The Vale of Glamorgan Resort, on the  Wales National Course, near Cardiff. Another strong field, which again included former PGA Champion Scott Drummond and European Senior Tour member Nick Job, assembled to battle for the £5,000 first prize.

With the course presented in the best condition possible having suffered a harsh winter and a subsequent lack of spring rain the players teed off in glorious warm sunshine and light winds.
The National is a long and demanding golf course and a lot of patience would be required by the eventual winner because a low score was not on the agenda for this week. As the first round scores started to come in with only a handful of players breaking the par of 73, the course was mounting a strong defence of it’s reputation. The par three 14th was, however, brought to its knees by Richard Gurney who speared his ball the centre of the cup for a brilliant hole-in-one and a bonus prize of £100 to celebrate his feat.
Former European Tour player Tom Whitehouse shared the top of the leader board with David James on 3 under par 70 with the posse of Jason Levermore, Stuart Archibald and Andrew Johnston chasing them one shot behind on 71.
Just four other players out of a field of 122 broke par on day one with Jake Amos, Stuart Manley,
Alex Belt and Kieran Staunton each scoring creditable one under par 72’s.
Only a total of nine players broke par on day one with the par fives, two, ten and fifteen proving card wreckers for many of the players including Lewis Richardson who finally holed out for a 12 on the second but then to his credit played out the remaining 16 holes in level par.

The second day was several degrees cooler and a stiff breeze swept over the course that would make scoring difficult for even the most skillful and experienced players.
Local hero and Paul Doherty set the pace and swept to the top of the leader board adding a brilliant 3 under par 70 to his first round 76 that gave him a chance of a home course win. Stuart Manley soon dashed Doherty’s hopes by adding a level par 73 to his first round 72 that edged him just one shot ahead. Manley was eventually to finish in third position overall and win £1,500 for his efforts.
Manley was to only enjoy his lofty status at the top of the leader board briefly as Stuart Archibald and Andrew Johnston, playing together in the penultimate group, approached the final holes with Johnston on four under for the tournament with 2 holes to play and Archibald back on one under.
In the final grouping of Levermore, James and Whitehouse nothing much was happening to interfere with the drama that was to unfold in an action packed final two holes that saw Johnston bogey both of them, whilst the determined Archibald parred the 17th and wrenched a rare birdie from the last hole to force himself into a play-off with Johnston that would decide the winner and the destination of the £5,000 first prize cheque.
With the temperature dropping as evening drew on, the tied duo headed for the first tee for their “sudden death” playoff. Both striking monster drives off into the distance, Johnston taking a tighter line and was rewarded with prime position in the middle of the fairway whereas Archibald’s ball nestled down into the spongy rough to the right, having to muscle the ball out, just scrapping onto the left side of the green, good shot!
Johnston slightly disappointed having found his ball to be sitting down in an old divot, with just his gap wedge in hand, full commitment required to get a perfect strike of  just 108yards, all that was left of the 456 yard hole!
The ball coming to rest less than 3 feet from the hole, a brilliant shot, to the delight of the last few remaining spectators.
 Archibald now feeling that only a miracle 30 yard putt would keep him in the game failed to find the cup in two and Johnston casually rolled in the winning birdie putt for the £5000 First Prize.

Simon Lilly blooms at South Essex

Simon LillyA glorious weather forecast promised a dry and sunny 2 days for the full field of professionals to negotiate the South Essex golf course near Brentwood east of London that was the second event in our full calendar of 23 tournaments.

With the breeze coming from the north and increasing as the day wore on the early starters held a slight advantage with the scoring conditions being easier.

Challenge Tour player Dan Brooks took full advantage of his “middle of the night” early tee time and tore up the course with a 7 under par 65 that stood the test of time and was to still lead at close of play.

Jack Doherty, also paying us a welcome visit from the Challenge Tour, carded a solid 6 under par 66 to keep Brooks from running away with the tournament.

A rash of players also found their form and fell in just behind Doherty on 5 under par. These included, former European Tour member Warren Bennett, James Ablett, Tony Piccolo, Marcus Armitage, Guy Woodman, Mark Laskey and Rory Kirwan, so Brooks needed to be aware that he was being chased by some quality players.

The second day proved to be a calmer affair than the first with the wind quartering more from the South West and clear skies the temperature soon rose to see the liberal use of sunscreen by the players.

Although not in contention after their disappointing first rounds, both Dale Whitnell and Jason Launder relaxed and carded 6 under par 66’s to show how low the scores could possibly go later on in the day.

Lloyd Kennedy joined the 66 club adding one to his level par 72 from the first day to break into the prize fund. Meanwhile on the course former European Tour player Simon Lilly was compiling a stunning round of golf, which eventually added up to an 8 under par 64. Lilly’s round included an eagle 3 on the 10th and seven birdies, with a four in a row run to end his round.

This vaulted Lilly into the lead on 12 under par and all he could do was sit and wait for the first round leaders to finish.

Out on the course, the now chasing pack seemed to be watching each other and one after the other tried to catch Lilly and it was Jack Doherty who seemed the most likely challenger reaching 11 under after 10 holes with a run that include two eagles but he eventually fell away to finish on 9 under par.

James Ablett added a second 67 to his first round total to finish on 10 under par to fall just 2 shots shy of Lilly and eventually finish third to win £1,500.

As the final group reached the 18th hole it was left to first round leader Brooks, who stood on the tee at 11 under, to try and birdie the par 5 last to tie or eagle it for the win.

His tee shot found the rough and a although he recovered well to finish just short of the green in two, Brooks was left with a difficult chip to a back pin with the green running away to a bunker set behind the green.

A slightly weak pitch and run never looked liked reaching the hole and ended up some 15 feet short of the cup. A clearly disappointed Brooks now had to hole for a birdie to force a play-off. The ball failed to complete the journey and he tapped in for par and a second place finish on 11 under par, a cheque for £3,000 eased the pain.

Simon Lilly, watching the drama unfold from the balcony above the 18th green, was delighted to gain his first win on the Jamega Tour in only his second event and pick up a £5,000 first prize cheque.

The South Essex Golf Club offers a quality golf course that offers a challenge to golfers of all standards and you will be greeted by friendly staff that go out of their way to ensure that you enjoy your visit and we would definitely recommend you pay it a visit.

The tour is going from strength to strength with full fields, including a large number of quality players from overseas and various other tours. With our next event at The Vale of Glamorgan now only taking reserves we would suggest that if you want to play against the best players outside of The European Tour you enter your chosen events as soon as possible, to avoid being disappointed.

Winner, Sam Hutsby, in full-flow

After six long and miserable winter months the tour headed for the seaside and the beautiful Hayling Island Golf Club for the first event of the year.

With a full field which included the former PGA Champion Scott Drummond, U.S. Champions Tour member Mark Mouland plus several Challenge Tour players including Kyron Sullivan, Zane Scotland, Dan Brooks and the defending champion James Busby.
A thoroughly disappointed John Banbury, last year’s runner-up, had to withdraw at the eleventh hour having pulled a stomach muscle during his final practice session.

Bright and breezy best described the weather on the first morning, although the early groups had the benefit of lighter winds. Early starter, Australian, Alex Munro took advantage to produce the lowest score of the day with a fine 4 under par 67, which stood the test of time to lead at the end of play.
Hot on Munro’s heels though, on 3 under par sat the defending champion, James Busby alongside, Steve Mitchell , Alex Belt, Dan Brooks and Richard Wallis all equaling Busby’s 68.
Local pro, Mark Treleaven, a little disappointed with his opening level par round of 71 compiled in the lighter winds of the morning but with an abundance of local knowledge could cause some damage to the prize fund on day two.
When the wind picked up in the afternoon, putting became difficult on the superfast greens and this was reflected in the overall scoring with some scores ballooning out of control.

On day 2 a relatively calm and sunny day dawned to greet the players, well, as calm as it can be on a links-land golf course and the general improvement in the scoring reflected that.
Scott Drummond raced up the leader board and into the prize fund with a stunning 5 under par 66, finally claiming a joint 6th place, winning £510.
Local Hero, Sam Hutsby moved on up the field with 2 eagles and a final birdie on 18 to post a superb 6 under par target of 136. So now it was a case of waiting to see if anyone in the latter groupings could catch him.

As the final group reached the 18th green with the defending champion Busby and first round leader Munro now out of the final shake-up it was left up to Richard Wallis to try and hole a birdie putt from around fifteen feet to tie Hutsby and force a play-off.
Wallis narrowly missed the putt, which left the delighted former European Tour player Sam Hutsby the winner of the first place cheque for £5000.
Richard Wallis had the consolation of £2,500 for second spot.

Hayling Island, a jewel in our calendar, providing a stunning venue, unsurpassable hospitality and service, together with liberal sprinkling of friendliness.
Many thanks to the Membership for their assistance and lovely welcome.
A special mention for Lochlan and his team of green-keepers for a course produced in immaculate condition, complimented by most, if not all Professionals. Well done, a great job.
We would highly recommend golfers of all standards to savour a taste of links golf and visit Hayling Island. A challenge and a joy.
Entries are no longer being taken for our next event at South Essex, reserve positions only.
So to avoid disappointment we would recommend that you enter The Vale of Glamorgan   25th / 26th of April as soon as possible.

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