(Left picture: L-R, Matthew Cryer, Olton Captain Nic Heath, Rob Copperthwaite, WUGC President Bob Harrison, Louie Pett. Right picture: Rob Copperthwaite.)
A full field of 72 players took to the fairways on 1st June to compete for the Carl Bretherton Vase and become Warwickshire Amateur Champion for 2017.
There was high level of expectation leading upto the event as very early on it was clear the condition of the course at Olton Golf Club was outstanding and with the weather forecast clear.
With favourable conditions there was nowhere to hide and no excuses - the stage was set for a great Championship.
Whenever you are asked “How quick do you want the greens?” by the greens team before a tournament, it can fill you with dread and wonder how sadistic they are planning to be. Generally, the order of the day is really for consistent surfaces together with fair pin positions. However, there was no need for any concern in this regard as the course was presented in impeccable condition and played fantastically.
A green speed of 12.6 on the day was sure to focus the players mind!
After round one there were a host of players within snatching distance of the lead, but leading the way with a great score of 67 (3 under par) was reigning Midland Order of Merit Champion, Rob Copperthwaite from Stratford on Avon Golf Club. Rob got to 2 under par early on after 5 holes and added 1 bogey, and 2 more birdies to the card.
A couple more solid rounds closely followed Rob with Alex Smith from Copt Heath on a 2 under par 68 and Coventry Golf Clubs, Matt Cryer on 69.
Other players rounds weren’t quite as straight forward with many having more bogeys than they would like. Oltons Nick Brooker was an example of this with dropping to 5 over par after 5 holes but a fantastic come back containing 6 birdies and another bogey enabled him to return a level par 70 and secure 4th place on the leaderboard at lunch.
Nick was joined on level par by past County Captain, Steve Creed from Maxstoke Park and Ladbrook Parks Arran Brown.
Expectation remained high for the afternoon round which did turn out to be a game of two halves for many with a number of strong players returning scores 7 shots better in the afternoon and posting some good scores on the leaderboard. But also players close to the lead fell away not quite being able to replicate their good play in the morning. Some of these casualties were Copt Heath’s Alex Smith who added a 77 to his 68 and finishing in 6th place and Steve Creed finishing in 11th.
In the top 10 only 5 players beat their morning score, notably four players scoring a 1 under par 69 and firing themselves up the leaderboard were, County Captain Stuart Bloxham (Coventry Hearsall), Tom Ibbertson (Coventry Hearsall), David Atkins (Forest of Arden) and Louie Pett (The Warwickshire). With Louie’s 69 adding to a steady 74 and finishing in 3rd place overall.
Two players left to mention are Matthew Cryer and Rob Copperthwaite. Matthew found the afternoon round a little more trying and posted a 2 over par 72 which left him in runner-up spot.
Meanwhile, Rob continued to play some good golf birdieing 2 out of the first 3 holes in his afternoon round, at that point leading by 4 shots from the rest of the field and looking very much in control and extremely focused on the task at hand. But even Rob began to feel the pressure and dropped a few shots over the final few holes and rounding off the round with a welcome birdie on the last hole. Robs 72 gave him a total of 1 under par with one hand on the trophy and a nervous wait for the remaining players to complete their rounds.
Slowly but surely all the cards were returned and he eventually took the title with both hands winning by 3 shots.
This win qualifies Rob for the National Champion of Champions held at Woodhall Spa in September where we wish him all the best. The top 8 players qualify for the Warwickshire Matchplay also being played at Olton (report soon to follow) and the top 25 qualifying for the Warwickshire Open in September at Moor Hall.
Alongside the individual event there is a team challenge. This consists of each Club selecting 3 players in the field and their 36 hole totals being added together to find the victor.
It was satisfying to have so many teams in the event this year and even more so that it was a very close finish. Home Club Olton was looking like taking the title until our County Captain returned his second round 69 leapfrogging Coventry Hearsall into first place who qualify for the English Champion Club event being held at East Devon Golf Club at the end of the Summer.
Many thanks as always to all of our volunteers on the day from starters to referees and marshalls, you know who you are and the event couldn’t go smoothly without your help.
On behalf of the Board of the Warwickshire Union a big thank you again to everyone at Olton Golf Club where all the staff and Club Officials gave a fantastic team effort and provided superb service and were excellent hosts.