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.

Abbott is The Player’s Player

Jamie Abbott at The Players clubJamie Abbott captured the Players title after a tense play-off against Sam Day, after Day had set a clubhouse target of 7 under par which sent Elliott Groves home after a lengthy wait to see if his final total of 6 under would be good enough for at least a play-off place.

Abbott, who is in a rich vein of form at the moment, trailed the first round leader, former two-time Walker Cupper, Rhys Pugh by a single shot after Pugh scored an impressive 4 under par 68, however Pugh could not carry his fine form on into the final round.

Starting on 2 under par, Day, in the penultimate group, found some brilliant form over the final day which saw him shoot a flawless 5 under par 67.

Day had a steady but unspectacular front nine holes that cumulated with a birdie at the ninth and that seemed to light the blue touch paper and he then harvested 4 more birdies on the back nine that saw him set the benchmark at 7 under par.

So it was going to be a nervy wait for Day until the final group came home but with Abbott at 8 under with 6 holes to play it looked like a lost cause.

Abbott held onto his slender lead until the fifteenth hole where he took a bogey to drop back into a tie with Day and regulation pars from Abbott over the closing holes saw us into a sudden death play-off over the fourteenth and eighteenth holes.

Both players hit great tee shots at the first extra hole and Abbott hit his second shot to within 14 feet of the cup whilst Day’s ball went wandering some 35 feet away from the hole.

Day putted up first to about 4 feet shy of the hole which left Abbott with a shot at the win but he missed his chance and so Day needed to hole out from 4 feet to continue but before finding the bottom his ball took the scenic route around the edge of the hole.

Good tee shots from both players on the second play-off hole left Day to play first and a well struck iron shot saw the ball suck back off the front of the green.

Abbott managed to hold the green some 25 feet from the hole and give himself a chance for a birdie and so Day had to at least get up and down to stand a chance of continuing proceedings,

His chip on finished three feet or so from the cup and so Abbott had his chance to win but again just missed his birdie but tapped in for par.

Day therefore had to hole his putt to continue but his luck unfortunately ran out and he missed, which left Abbott the worthy winner over a disappointed Sam Day.

The only disappointing element of the tournament was the weather which threatened thunder storms and torrential rain but in the end we managed to miss most of it and finished on time.

The Players club is one of our favourite venues, where we and the players are always made to feel welcome and where nothing is too much trouble for the clubhouse staff and the course is always beautifully presented.