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The journey was a swift one and we made it into Croydon in good time to get breakfast at one of South London's finest greasy spoons. Bruce myself and Phil going for the house special and Del just settling for a cup of coffee to our astonishment only to realise that he is quite possibly the only person I have met that would sneak a sandwich into a café!! All part of his healthy eating regime and diet apparently.
We quickly mopped up breakfast and made our way to the scout hut for half 8 to find a small number of people getting ready to play golf . Greeted by a few of the other QP locals we set about waiting for the players meeting . The ground work and detail that was put into setting up for the meet was fantastic and pretty much explained itself before the tournament for anyone on the forum . I found it was possible to plan what I wanted to throw on pretty much every hole due to the fantastic course map that had been put together by Jester. Good work!!
The meet finished and once we had found out where we were all playing it was back in the car to drive to the course (yes I know its lazy but we did have old codger Del and his walking sticks with us).
I was so lucky to be starting on possibly my worst hole on the course in hole 2 as the year before at the Cyclone I had managed to make a lovely new home for all four of my drives under the Chairman's tree . Thanks Mr Wood for that.
The first Round was to be played with Phil Wood Sophie and Asa . Myself and Phil went about practicing a few drives on 2 and played through the hole a few times with me constantly thinking that maybe I should ask Phil if I could borrow one of his sidearm's for my first shot .(If only).
We started the round and I was up 2nd and again made my way over to my favourite tree on the course but luckily to the right of it and quite close to the gated mando's. There wasn't really a shot to attack the basket so decided to lay up and play for a par 4. 2nd shot went well and I was in between the mando's and had a good chance of an easy approach and in for a 4.
For anyone that knows me and has played with me a few times you can kind of guess what's coming , yup the easy approach turned into a shot that left me a putt about 6-7 m short of the basket. I missed the putt to take a 5 yet again on what is quickly becoming my nemesis hole on the course. Cheers hole 2 you got me again !!
Luckily what was to come was some solid golf with me taking a majority of pars with a couple of shots dropped here and there and cruised to a solid 63 . Phil had a great round and managed to take 7 birdies in total but unfortunately managed to drop as many shots and more than he took birdies Doh!!! But good work anyway fella.
The weather was great at this point little bit of wind and the sun had appeared to everyone's delight as we went back to the scout hut to gorge ourselves on the fantastic selection of food that had been laid out for us .
The scores were tallied up and after the first round I sat in joint 3rd place with Fran behind Chairman Wood and Mr Lowes.
Pretty pleased with the way that went!!
Back to the course for the 2nd round and on this occasion with Dan Eagle Ali and Fran to commence the 2nd round. I started off better in this one and looked to be mounting a challenge for a better score than the morning , throwing a number of shots that I'm not sure anyone's heard about called thumbers!!! This was getting me into great positions to get me some good chances for some birds.
The old me would have probably missed a lot of these but with a bit of training back at QP HQ with one of Croydons own (Bruce) to change the way I putt had helped no end and I ended up taking my chances well. I ended up 3 over par by the time we got to 2 holes from the end hoping to motor through to a 62 with a couple of pars at the end.
Unfortunately my penultimate hole was hole 2 and it had other plans . So again I consistently sent my drive towards the chairman's tree only this time I hit it quite hard and ended up in the brush that surrounded it . Not panicking I played a short side arm out to the side of the gated mando that left me no shot but a roller through the gate. I threw the roller to see it go dead straight and land next to the mando on the other side to a telling off from QP ranger team mate Charlie Mead saying 'remind me to teach you how to throw a roller next time we are at QP'. Cheers Charlie!!! Good job he didn't see the next roller that went all the way back to where I threw the first one from .
At this point there were a number of swear words going through my mind and I eventually got round and through to take a 7 with no missed mando's!!! Brilliant . Took a par on the last hole and went in with a very angry 65 needing food beer and sleep ASAP.
I met back up with Phil Sumner and Del and proceeded to got to the hotel for food and sleep joining Charlie Ross Sophie Chris and Paul for a great 3 course meal and a couple of pints.
By this time the 5 o clock start in the morning was seriously setting in and we retired back to the room for TV and eventual sleep at 11.
What I didn’t know was that I was going to be woken up by the big gruffalo snorer in my room at 3 and couldn’t get back to sleep . 4 hours sleep nooooooooo!!
The weather had taken a serious turn for the worse and the shorts and T shirt were put to one side and the waterproofs locked and loaded. The wind had got up and the rain had started . At this point it wasn’t too bad , my umbrella was doing a good job of keeping me dry.
Luckily I had managed to stay 3rd after my poor 2nd round 2 shots back from Tom and Fran who were in the lead . We all went into the lead card along with Rich Wood and proceeded to play golf in what were to prove difficult conditions. It proved to be tough going with nasty headwinds galore all the way round toying with our shots .
Despite the wind and drizzle I played well and picked up a few birdies driving and putting well and making sure of my pars when given the chance. The others didn't have as much luck posting lower scores than the great scores they had posted the day before.
I eventually got round in 62 making amends for my 2nd round . Tom scored a 65 with Rich and Fran back on 68's meaning I went into the lead by one shot for the final , get in.
Lunch took place again whilst the weather got worse and worse the wind picked up even more and the heavens opened to create horrific conditions to play in. The scores were checked and the top 5 were established in each group with Del also leading in the open division . Could QP take back both the Open and Advanced titles? One thing was for sure with the weather as it was it looked as if it would be whoever could play through and make the least mistakes.
The 3 Croydonites that had played with me in the 3rd round had now turned into 4 with Sam Stevens shooting a 64 to claim a spot in the final . Of course there was much banter on hole one as we awaited the int am final to move on so we could begin and suddenly turned into a lighthearted QP/Croydon slugfest with Jerry , Hippy Dan and Phil Wood joining team Croydon!!! Phil Sumner Gary O malley and Andrew Douse joined team QP with Phil Sumner caddying for me .
We started on hole one in the poring rain with a cruel chilling wind behind us the tee pads had become really awkward and slippy and became very difficult to throw off. I drove and went OB straight off . Everyone else went out into the open and took there 3's I was stuck with a 5 . Great 2 down already and in the blink of an eye I'd given the lead away. We carried on round the course and I had managed to get myself in a right mess putting me three shots back due to the conditions squashing any chance of me making the thumbers that I had been all weekend.
Cue stern words from my caddy Phil with a number of expletives along the line of stop messing about and get your head together. A bit of a game plan change and thumbers were put to one side and my backhand drives started to motor pulling back the 3 shots I had given away . Fran was having a great final and was picking shots up left right and centre to get within one of Tom. By hole 18 myself and Tom were level on 222 and Fran on 223 with the others a few back . The wind was deadly and it was going to be really tough to get anywhere close to the basket . I was up first and got the biggest over stable disc out of my bag to fight that wind and drove just short of the big tree on the right , Tom was about the same with Fran well back on the right . Fran threw his next shot unfortunately into the undergrowth that surrounded the tree on the right and myself and Tom played round as well as we could to have long putts into the wind for 3's . I went first and missed to leave me a tricky back putt into the wind about 3 metres away with Tom shooting for a 3 into the wind from about 8 m maybe more . Tom had a go but missed and left his disc under the basket . I had the pressure putt into the wind and took my time to push it into the top of the chains to take the final into extra time with Fran putting out for a 4 or 5 to put himself out of the equation.
At this point both myself and Tom almost wanted to flip a coin for the win but resumed on hole 1 for the playoff and a nail biting finale!
So in the freezing cold and rain we resumed another hole !
Again I had to drive 1st and drove through the gap about 2/3 of the way up , Tom drove a bit further up but right leaving him no shot on the basket . I approached but left myself about 3-4m shot ad Tom put his under the basket . I stepped up for the putt took my time and sank it right n the heart of the chains! More golf then . Hole 2 my favourite! Again I drove first but this time had a fairly decent drive out into the open , Tom drove with a side arm and then to the right close to the 2nd mando . My 2nd went to the front of the left mando on the gate , unfortunately Toms side arm went past the wrong side of the mando to have a shot from the drop zone . I went first knowing that if I got anywhere close I would be in with a great chance to seal the win cocked up my next shot and took a 5 with Tom to go into another hole!
Hole 17 and I tried to go big but the wind squashed it and left me at the top of the bowl , Tom had the same luck and went right under the big tree. Tom took a side arm leaving him about 15 m short of the basket . My shot next , took the big hyzer route and smashed a driver to let the drive come round the back of the tree and land 2m short of the basket . Tom went for the basket but missed and went past then sunk the putt for the 4 . All I needed was my putt to seal the win and I got it Boom! So pleased , my first tour win.
Real commiserations to Tom though he played gallantly right the way through , it was a real shame that someone had to lose .
We finished to realise that Del and Jester were enduring the same punishment playing off on one and 2 where Jester got the win .
What a fantastic weekend of golf enjoyed by all even if the weather was that bad . Really enjoyed it.
The prizes were given out quickly at the end because of the weather and then a very tired bunch of QP'ers retired to the pub to get dry and back up the M25 and M40 to sunny Leamington.
Big shout out to all that organised the event , it was a fantastic weekend and I was so pleased to have played well even if I did need a kick up the arse at the end.
Next up ………. Burnlaw.
(Apologies to Matt and Oz, although I enjoyed the final with you immensely I can only remember the golf Del was playing and latterly Chris).
After three rounds of nip and tuck golf, Del and I had a few shots on the rest of the finalists but by no means out of sight. Chris made up four shots on Del in the first four holes of the QP Open Final last year, and in the cold, wet, foul weather anything was possible.
I had made some silly mistakes during the regulation rounds, I’d need to cut these out if I was going to emerge victorious for the first time at the Cyclone. In the 5th year of it being my home tournament, I was desperate for the win. The conditions pretty much wrote the strategy for me – get ahead in the first few holes and play safe to stay there. There would be dropped shots from cold hands and slippery footing, this was going to be all about who could hold it together the best.
Leaderboard at the start of the Final:
1 Del 170
2 Jester 171
3 Chris 175
4 Matt 177
5 Oz 180
#1 The Tunnel
In the worst possible start for Del, he clipped a branch and went OB. A great recovery shot however and he saved a drop-in 4.Chris made a great drive and putt for 2, and I had a safe 3.
1 Del 174
1 Jester 174
3 Chris 177
Solid drives put Del, Chris and I all about the length of the Chairman’s Tree, but the second shots made all the difference. Del left his a little short, missed his putt and took a 4. Chris missed the 4th mando going too far right with his hyzer approach for an OB 5. I approached to 5y and got the 3.
1 Jester 177
2 Del 178
3 Chris 182
Taking two shots in two holes to lead by one was just the start I was after. On my game plan I was exactly where I wanted to be, but I was so focussed on getting ahead of Del I allowed myself to forget that even though Chris had just 5-ed, he was still a threat. More on that later.
#3 Tree Amigos
To get a 2 in the crosswind would have needed a miracle, so I was happy all I needed was to get out in the clear somewhere I could make a safe 3. I grip-locked my drive into the second mando however, whereas Del and Chris got safely through. They made their 3s, I could only manage a 4. Grrrrr, stupid.
1 Jester 181
1 Del 181
3 Chris 185
Del and Chris got their drives off down the middle. Annoyed with not even holding my lead for one hole, I over-committed on my drive and grip-locked again with disastrous results. With a lack of foliage to stop my disc, I flew straight though the branches of the mando tree on the wrong side. From the DZ I got to 10y but missed the putt and took a 5. I was sure I’d drop a shot to Del, but he left his upshot a little shot and missed a 7yarder to take 5 as well. I knew I’d had a bit of luck then. Chris took a safe 4, but I wasn’t even thinking about him.
1 Del 186
3 Chris 189
#14 The White House
I hadn’t made it cleanly through the gap all weekend, so wasn’t feeling confident. I clipped the tree on the right but did get through. Del hit the tree harder and got stuck behind it, Chris got straight though no worries. From his lie Del could only make 5. My approach was long but I was still happy to pick up and shot on him with a 4. It was only when Chris made a great up and down for 3 I suddenly thought for the first time in the Final: ‘What’s his score?’ Conor confirmed my fear, this was now a 3 horse race:
1 Jester 190
2 Del 191
3 Chris 192
Incidentally it was about this time the cold was really beginning to bite. Between shots all of us and Conor (our scorekeeper) were going for little jogs to try and stay warm. It must have looked quite peculiar to any who saw us!
#15 Crimson King
I had made a couple of 2s on this throwing roller drives, so I went for the same again. This time though I got stuck against the tree two thirds of the way down. No 2 this time, but a safe 3. Del and Chris went for air shots and both got clean through to leave birdie putts. First up was Del at12y out, but he missed. Chris had an 8y putt which he really went for but hit the pole. I breathed a sigh of relief, another lucky break – if Chris had sunk it he’d have repeated his 4 shots in 4 holes QP Open Final heroics and I really didn’t want him breathing down my neck when I was still trying to keep Del at bay!
1 Jester 193
2 Del 194
3 Chris 195
Three to play and the pressure is really mounting. Despite some silly errors though, the type I was trying to avoid, I’m still 1 shot in the lead. How, I’m asking myself, can I make sure that this time I hang on to it?! I figured the horrible weather might just help out. With the last three holes being pretty open, the wind would make birdies hard to score. If I could just make par on the last three holes, that should be enough.
Del and Chris got their drives up the hill no bother. I’d made three 3’s here during regulation so was confident of following them, but the golf Gods had other plans. For the third time in the final I grip-locked. Exasperated, from a lie by the first tree on the right, I made a recovery to level with Hangman’s but couldn’t make the up and down from there. I took 5 while Del made a safe 4. Chris had a long headwind putt for the 3. Knowing that if he hit it there would be a 3-way tie for the lead, he went for it. The wind lifted it over the crown however and it carried to about the same distance as the putt he’d just missed on the last hole. Showing some stones he didn’t even blink has he stepped up and drained it to stay just one behind with two to play.
1 Jester 198
1 Del 198
3 Chris 199
Up first, this time it was Chris’ turn to blink. He dragged his drive right and clattered through the branches of the mature tree off to the side of the fairway. Del and I got down on to the green to leave putts around 12y. Chris’ drive had landed in the clear and he had a good approach but it skipped long. Te sunk a cracking putt though that rattled the yellow band, bounced down on to the lip and then in! The man from Newcastle was understandably delighted – he was still in it! Del laid up for the safe 3. I was a little closer and gave it a half hearted run, but it never really had a chance and I was happy to take a 3 too and look to settle things on the last hole.
1 Jester 201
1 Del 201
3 Chris 202
#18 Bull Pen
All three of us put out drives in the clear about 15y short. Chris was putting first. Knowing he needed a birdie to stay in it, he ran it but missed. He unfortunately missed the comeback for a 4, but still carded a great 31, the best final 9 score.
Del was up next. Again he chose not to risk anything and laid up for the safe 3. I had to decide to risk the headwind putt for the win (and potential loss if I couldn’t make the comeback) or lay it up and take it to a play off. Not really fancying my chances on The Tunnel, I decided to take on the putt. I gave it a good run, as it was in the air I knew it was going to be close, but agonisingly it faded just short across the chains. I was able to make the comeback 3 and Del and I were going into sudden death.
1 Jester 204
1 Del 204
3 Chris 206
4 Matt 212
5 Oz 214
Playoff hole #1 The Tunnel
With the honour still with Del from Hangman’s, he drove first. No mistake this time, he got up the middle and about 15y short. Giving it all my concentration, I pulled off the best drive I made on The Tunnel all weekend to leave a 7yarder. Del gave his putt a real chance, but like mine on Bull Pen it just faded across the chains. Agonising for him I’m sure, but a relief for me. I had a putt to win it, but hit it too low and we shared tap-in 3s.
Playoff hole #2 Tramlines
Del’s drive looked good but turned over too soon and clipped the tree in front of the old tee. It dropped under it leaving a tricky stance and a long second. The door opened, I put a Roc up the middle to level with the Chairman’s tree. From an impeded stance, Del’s second faded more than he would have wanted and came to rest at the bottom of the Chairman’s. Knowing an approach to leave myself a putt could wrap things up, and with my heart trying to beat its way out of my chest, I put a TeeBird between the mandos to within touching distance of the chains. Del approached but was still a way short, and when seeing that I had a drop-in graciously conceded the playoff.
I was shattered, soaked and freezing cold, but none of that mattered anymore – I had won the Cyclone!
Final results and provisional round ratings:
(NB - I don't think it has registered the revised par for the final (31), so some of the 'To Par' scores look a bit ridiculous)
1 - Jester Wilson (after two play-off holes)
2 - Derek Robins
3 - Chris O'Brien
1 - Jon Tweed (after three play-off holes)
2 - Tom Lowes
3 - Fran Wilson
1 - Simon Edwards
2 - Paul McCullough
3 - Matt Parslow