(Left: Liam Phipps Olton Golf Club, Right: leading Pro's and Amateurs)
The parkland setting of Moor Hall Golf Club was the venue for the recent Warwickshire Open Championship. This event has been played since 1946 and annually sees the great and good of both the Amateur and Professional ranks in Warwickshire compete against each other for the W.F. Wiseman trophy.
This year was no different where 50 players all began their day hopeful and eager.
After round one the professionals were out in force with 3 of them sitting comfortably in the top 4 at lunch. This group was led by Robert Steele from Ladbrook Park with a great round of 66 although a bogey on his last hole must have left a sour taste at lunch. Ryan Wallace (Walmley) was one back from Rob on 67 and then Ben Silver from Hatchford Brook not far behind on 69.
However, the one Amateur in the thick of it (and not to be forgotten) was Olton Golf Club member and 2016 Open Champion, Liam Phipps. Liam returned a gross 67 and only 1 back from the lead.
After the leading pack a group of 5 players were also in very prominent positions on 71, these were current Matchplay Champion Nick Brooker (Olton), Michael Gordon (Olton), Gary Skipp (Robin Hood), Alex Smith (Copt Heath) and Joe Macilwraith (Olton).
With the leader sat on 4 under par at lunch the question of further low rounds in the afternoon was a distinct possibility however the early second round cards returned and news from the course seemed to suggest it wasn’t playing as easily.
At the close of play not one card in the afternoon was under par. Although a nice level par 70 shot Maxstoke Parks Stephen Creed up the leaderboard. Gary Skipp continued a very consistent appearance adding another 71 to his morning round, along with Darren Murphy (Harborne) and Matthew Johnson (Stratford Park) also returning 71’s.
It was clear that it was going to be a case of who could hold on to their morning score the most effectively rather than building a score further under par.
A couple of the morning leaders couldn’t quite match their earlier form with Ryan Wallace, Ben Silver and Robert Steele all returning 75’s in the afternoon session which would make the leaderboard interesting.
Meanwhile, trying his best to keep things going, even with a few errant tee shots and a double bogey on the tricky 14th hole, Liam Phipps managed to scramble a 2 over par 72 to add to his mornings efforts and gave him a total of 139 (1 under par) for the Championship. This was good enough to win by 2 shots from Robert Steele and retain the Open Championship title.
Running alongside the Open, the Amateurs also compete for the T.P. Cooke Salver. This trophy is for the best aggregate score in the Amateur and the Open and thanks to his Open performance Liam Phipps ‘leapfrogged’ a host of players to take the title by 4 shots from fellow Olton members Nick Brooker and Joe Macilwraith. Well done to all 3 players and it must be pointed out how strong Olton members have performed in the Amateur and the Open. Granted, the Amateur was played around their home course but in the aggregate results 9 out of the top 20 players were from Olton which is a fantastic achievement.
Finally, our thanks must go to the staff and members of Moor Hall for all their help prior to and during the event and for hosting the event so well with the course in fine condition.