Lee James wins again!

leejames1Wharton 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!

Martin Sell back in winning form

Martin SellOn Sunday we ran a very successful Pro-Am tournament for Mentmore Golf & C.C.  sponsored by local car leasing company Greenfleets, their generosity ensuring an excellent prize-fund for the professionals and great prizes for the Team Amateurs.

It was a huge success and enjoyed by both the Amateurs and Professionals alike. Our sincere thanks to both the Mentmore organising team and all sponsors.

A breezy start on the first day made shot making difficult but the immaculately prepared greens gave the better putters in the field a chance to post a score. Some 45 players managed to beat the par of 72 including Mark Chamberlain who after a mundane 2 over par 38 front nine went into overdrive completing the back half in a stunning 29 shots which included 5 birdies and an eagle.

Even his 5 under par score was not good enough to head the leader board and he joined Michael Lowe, Kieran Staunton, Michael Bush, Shaun Malone and Darryn Lloyd one shot behind Ian Winstanley on 66 who headed the charge to catch Martin Sell and Andy Shakespear who both shot magnificent 7 under par 65’s.

Things always hot up on the second day and local hero Will Roebuck was looking to leap up the leader board and a possible win, however both Shakespear and Sell stood in his way, 3 shots ahead.

Nathan Treacher showed what was possible by carding the second back nine score of 29 in two days for a 7 under par 65 and elevation into the prize fund.
Lee Corfield bolted out of the pack to set an early target of 10 under by adding a flawless 7 under par card of 65 to his first round 69.

Roebuck started badly by bogeying the first hole but after that he made a headlong charge for the title. Carding 8 birdies in the remaining 17 holes to overtake Corfield as clubhouse leader at 11 under par. Now all he could do was wait and see if it would be good enough.

The two first round leaders were enduring differing fortunes on the front nine with Sell stumbling along to reach the turn in one over par 37 which dropped him well behind the main contenders who were all making birdies.

Shakespear on the other hand was making steady progress up the leader board and turned in 34 to lie just one behind the clubhouse leaders with nine holes to play.

Sell birdied ten and eleven to make up a little lost ground but still had a lot to do.
Shakespear also birdied ten and continued to harvest pars still wondering if it was to be, or not to be his day.
With Sell parring the twelfth and thirteenth the tournament had play-off written all over it. However suddenly Sell started an amazing charge of a man possessed, with a run of 3 birdies and an eagle on the 17th that vaulted him into the lead on 13 under par. Shakespear also birdied the 17th to get to 11 under and with the difficult 18th to play it was still not over.
Both hit good tee shots but Sell tugged his second which looked water bound for a swim but the ball just pulled up short leaving him with a very difficult pitch to the green and a hoped for bogey at worse.
With little or no room for a back swing Sell played a magnificent recovery to within 4 feet and then confidently rolled in his par putt to win the first prize cheque for £6,000.
This left Roebuck and Shakespear in joint second place on 11 under par, each winning £2,375 as a consolation.
Mentmore’s course manager, Danny, always presents the course in pristine condition and this coupled with the hospitality on offer in the clubhouse makes it a must visit golfing destination.

Crowned at The Shire London

Gary King takes his first win at Seve's Course

It was with mixed emotions that we set off for our 5th event of the year at the Severiano Ballesteros designed Shire London Masters Course. With Seve having sadly passed away only hours before, after fighting a deadly brain tumour for three years. It was to be a bitter, sweet tournament for us and the 132 professionals playing in the event.

As a mark of respect to Seve we gave all the pro’s a black ribbon to wear throughout the two days and to a man they all did so. This showed the immense respect for the man who did for European golf what Arnold Palmer did for American golf.

As with everything he did Seve produced a layout that was extraordinary as opposed to a traditionally laid out golf course. With 6 par three’s, 6 par fours and 6 par fives it would test the patience and imagination of all the players.

As seems to be the norm now, the first day saw an ever strengthening wind sweeping the cobwebs away from the Shire London Masters course and it was a definite  advantage to go out as an early starter. This proved to be the case when the first group home included a 5 under par 65 from Tony Piccolo and a 4 under par 66 from recent winner Andrew Johnston. Gary King, playing in group 6 also produced a sparkling 5 under 65 to join Piccolo at the top table.

Guy Woodman, in group two produced a solid 3 under 67 to stay in touch with the leaders and he was joined by Martin Sell, Tommy Haylock and Scott Fallon in the chasing posse.

A stroke further back on 2 under par 68 came James Busby and Jay Beisser. Charlie Simpson, who by the way had a nasty 8 on the 16th hole in his 1 under 69, sat a further one shot behind alongside Mark Laskey, Westley Wray and Adam Carson.

With the scene set for day two with a calmer wind and bright sunshine we wondered would Piccolo hold his nerve to gain his first Jamega Tour win or would the more experienced players overtake him?

Although the conditions were calmer the scoring seemed worse for some strange reason though the exception was James Horn who shot a brilliant 4 under par 66 to rocket him up into the prize fund into joint 10th winning £360 for his efforts.

Unfortunately first round leader Piccolo stumbled a little with a closing 5 over but still finished joint 6th winning £650 and gaining a lot of experience. As the leaders reached the final holes the lead was grasped by Gary King with birdies on 15 and 16 which took him to 6 under par. Haylock who was challenging King for the lead until he stumbled giving stokes away with bogeys at 14 and 16 to eventually finish second to win £3,000.

Although with a 2 shot lead King was not home and dry yet with water playing a part in both the finishing holes. However he negotiated both with pars and stood victorious, winning by two and picking up the winner’s cheque for £6,000.

Although an emotional tournament tinged with sadness I am sure that Seve would have been proud of his legacy, his creation, the magnificent Shire Masters Course.

A true test for one and all, a “must play” for all your diaries, give The Shire a call, take on the challenge that Seve has set for golfers of all standards.

Severiano Ballesteros
  1957 ~ 2011
You will always be admired and never forgotten.