Wharton 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!