Warwickshire Golf

Double Celebrations for Cave

(Pictured L to R: picture 1 Seb Cave, picture 2 Josh Davenport, Jack Drury, See Cave, Dan Bardsley, Rob Bardsley, John Paul Banbury, Louis Sanders)

For three years Handsworth Golf Club have waited patiently to host the Warwickshire Amateur Championship which was eventually played on 10th June.

I’m sure you’ll agree that a lot has happened in such a short time, Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, Donald Trump reluctantly handed over the keys to the White House, we have left the European Union and ummm, there was another thing I’m sure?

Oh yes! ….we’ve all suffered from a worldwide pandemic. Other than that things have been just rosy.

During this time at Handsworth they have redesigned, managed and modelled, three key holes on the course due to a flood plain being adjacent to the golf course and the environment agency spearheading the decision to move the holes in question. Patience is a virtue, the holes are now bedding in nicely and appear near the start of a tough back nine just in time for the Warwickshire Amateur Championship for the first time since 2003.

A thank you early on to everyone at the Club who worked and assisted to prepare for this event. We were looked after exceptionally well by the Clubhouse staff, their Professional Lee Bashford and Course Director, Warren Bingham. The course itself was presented in excellent condition and on the day I got the impression it played tough but fair. Just as it should be. Thank you to Head Greenkeeper Adam Jones and his team for their efforts.

Some of the first cards also showed the course wasn’t going to be torn apart with several them including a ‘score killer’ hole. I haven’t got the statistics on this but over the course of the day, I don’t remember entering as many eights and nines into the system before.

As time went on members of the Boys squad set the early target with Coventry Golf Clubs Ryan Gavin posting a 74, Coventry Hearsalls Channon James a 72, Wishaw Golf Clubs Sam Easterbrook a classy 71 and Seb Cave from The Belfry, a 72. What is fantastic is that these players are 14, 16, 17 and 16 years of age respectively! – this promises exciting years ahead for the Warwickshire Boys team.

Every golfer knows that no matter how well you play you will always feel you left shots out on the course, but after the first round Seb Cave did look a little frustrated with his 72. Starting on the 10th hole in the morning round he did have a bit of a bumpy ride with three bogies and two birdies, but then steadied the ship with eight pars and a single bogey on the par 3 forth hole. So I can only assume that his frustration was not converting a few birdie opportunities late on in the round, but his look of surprise on finding out the leading morning score said it all. He knew he wasn’t out of the hunt and has won before by being the 2019 Warwickshire Under 18 and Under 16 Champion.

The last scores to come in were a pair of solid 69’s (1 under par) from opposite ends of the course. Rob Bardsley (Moor Hall) with four birdies and three bogeys started at the 1st hole and matching that from the 10thwas Louis Sanders (Copt Heath). Both would be difficult to beat, but they only held a two shot lead from Sam Easterbrook and half a dozen players just one more shot back including; Josh Davenport (Maxstoke Park), Tom Ibbertson (Coventry Hearsall), Jacob Parsons (Coventry), Chanon James (Coventry Hearsall), Seb Cave (The Belfry) and Matt Hurcombe (Sutton Coldfield).

The weather heated up a little for the afternoon round, as did the scoring of four of the top ten from the morning session. Jack Drury (Stratford on Avon) posted a level par 70 to add to his opening round of 74, Ryan Gavin added a 71 to his 74, Josh Davenport a 71 to go with his 72, the other Seb Cave returning a fantastic 66 (4 under) to add to his 72 to give a 36 hole total of 2 under par and the lead in the Clubhouse with four groups left on the course.

For the two players returning a 69 in the morning round a level par second round would trigger a play off. Rob Bardsley starting his second round on the 10th hole made the turn in two over par, however a bogey on his 10th and 11th holes just left too much to do and finished the round on 74 and the tournament on 3 over par. Louis Sanders started his afternoon round on the 1st hole and made a strong start with birdies on the 3rd and 9th holes with only one bogey on the 8th to make the turn in 1 under. However, back to back bogeys on the 11thand 12th holes followed by a string of pars all the way to the Clubhouse meant a second round of 71 and a total of level par.

With this news, on his 17th birthday, Seb Cave had just won his third Warwickshire title and received the Carl Bretherton Vase from Handsworth Captain Mick Jones. A fantastic mature performance from Seb and also from Ryan and Sam, one of whom is still eligible to play boys golf for another three years!

Running alongside this Championship is a Team Challenge, where three players form the same Club can have their scores added together to make an accumulative total where the lowest gross score wins what has got to be the heaviest shield in Warwickshire, and a trip to the English Champion Club finals which this year are at Knole Park. This year this event was hotly contested by nine Clubs, which is a great turn out to have so many Clubs represented.

The top three Clubs were separated by only three shots, which is exceptionally close and doesn’t take a maths genius to work out that only one shot by each player over 36 holes was the difference between them. Although the eventual winners, Moor Hall with a team of Rob Bardsley, John Paul Banbury and Dan Bardsley, were leading by 10 shots at lunch. They did manage to hold on and return a score of 447 (27 over par) which was enough to win by two shots from home Club Handsworth (Karl Smith, Rhys Wallace and Lewis Watson) and in third place Maxstoke Park (Cameron Bridger, Josh Davenport and Paul Walker). Good luck in the National Finals Moor Hall.

From becoming Warwickshire Amateur Champion, Seb is eligible to compete in the English Champion of Champions tournament at Woodhall Spa in September. 

The leading available eight players also qualify for the Warwickshire Matchplay Championship which takes place at Handsworth on 25th and 27th June, to view the draw please CLICK HERE




Matt Nixon

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