(Click photos to enlarge and see link below for all photos of the day)
Driving over to North Warwickshire Golf Club on the morning of the County Under 14 and Under 12 Championship it was decidedly overcast and I thought this event would be the first played this year in cloudy conditions. We had nothing to worry about however as the clouds cleared and made way for another glorious days golf.
Whilst setting up in the Clubhouse and walking past the Honours boards, detailing who has won these events in the past, there are some heavy weight names listed which includes TWO Ryder Cup players! One of these players and multiple Senior Tour Major winner, Paul Broadhurst won the Under 14 Championship in the first 2 years of its existence (1979 and 1980), ex-tour player Sam Walker won in 1992, and the other more recent Ryder Cup player and multiple European Tour winner Andy Sullivan won the event in 2002.
With these names being at the forefront of many peoples minds regarding golf in Warwickshire, it does bring home the importance of this event and how it is a good development stepping stone for the young players of today who may want to be stars of the future.
There are not many events (outside of Warwickshire anyway!) that can say a Ryder Cup star has played in and won an event you have played in, so to have an event where there are two Ryder Cup players as Past Champions is something else! What’s more is that this event has been played at the North Warwickshire Golf Club since the beginning so you really are following in their footsteps.
Play throughout the first nine holes was mixed, but after just two holes three players had begun to make a move with Finley Stokes (Atherstone), the 2017 Under 14 Champion Chanon James (Kenilworth) and Seb Cave (The Belfry) all making a birdie on the first hole, but with only Finley able to continue the momentum and make another birdie on the fourth hole taking him to 2 under par and having the outright lead by two shots after the other two had dropped shots.
After the early excitement play levelled off a little and by the ninth hole Finley was still holding on to his two shot lead however he had moved back to level par and Seb and Chanon to two over. At this point Finley had an unfortunate run in with the bogey train which lead to a few bogeys whereas Chanon had manged to steady his ship and had got it back to 1 over par and a lead of 3 shots with two holes to play.
Meanwhile, Seb Cave was playing some steady par golf but a bogey at 16 took him down to 4 over par. Then on the 17thhole Chanon hit some trouble which resulted in a double bogey and his lead was cut to only one shot with one to play. A fantastic clutch birdie by Seb Cave on 18 and a par from Chanon meant we had a tie for the Championship title on gross 74.
A tie in this event means a sudden death play-off starting from the first hole until a winner is found. So, winning the coin toss, Seb selected a fairway wood and calmly hit his tee shot down the right side of the fairway. Chanon, unfazed by this countered his opponents drive with a perfect high draw with a driver down the left side of the fairway.
Seb was to hit his approach first from under 100 yards and hit a great shot which tried to grab near the hole but continued to roll down to the back of the green but still a good chance putt for birdie. Chanon hit next from a tight bare lie from 70 yards and struck it perfectly and within a couple of bounces the ball had stopped within 5 foot of the flag also leaving him an uphill putt. Both shots into the green were met with applause from the gallery, even a ‘get in the hole’ shout emerged from the crowd (which we are sure to hear more of in the next few weeks in Paris for the Ryder Cup).
Seb hit a great putt which finished hole high but slightly to the right ensuring his par and then Chanon wasting no time at all, took aim and coolly brushed his putt into the hole for a fantastic birdie and took the Championship with both hands retaining the title for another year.
The play off itself was played in great spirit and with an attitude way above their years which was fantastic to see.
The Under 12’s Championship was equally impressive with some fantastic golf (and equally good comments received from the spectators) was on show from competitors of only 10 years of age.
Runaway victor in this Championship was Ryan Gavin form Coventry GC who was tied with our eventual Under 14 Champion after six holes and a birdie on the last to end up with a superb gross 80. His nearest rivals, Ted Westwood (Marston Lakes) and Joshua Gardner (Coventry) finishing on 93. Ted taking the runner-up spot on card count back. Well done Ryan!
The overall Nett voucher winner was Thomas Neal from The Warwickshire with 69 (2 under par), as our Championship winners had already received their prizes.
Our putting competition was hotly contested this year and after a card playoff Sam Easterbrook was crowned Champion and also took home a voucher.
For me most important in this event was the attitude of all of the players was impeccable and was commented on by a number of people on the day which is fantastic for us, a feather in all the parents caps and a big pat on the back to all of the competitors. Well done and thank you!
A big thank you also to North Warwickshire Golf Club for hosting the event and your hospitality once again. All the players enjoyed the course and the challenge and we look forward to returning in 2019.