Simon Lilly blooms at South Essex
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A 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.