(LtoR: Shirley Captain John Meaden, Stephen Creed, Alex Ford, Louis Sanders, Chanon James, John Paul Banbury, Chris Freeman, Mark Reynolds Union President)
The long-anticipated Warwickshire Open returned recently to Shirley Golf Club with the young guns on top again.
Leading up to the event the weather (according to the newspapers and internet) was going to be problematic with thunderstorms, torrential rain and even hail forecast. Thankfully nearer the time the threat of an electrical storm subsided but rain was still on the cards.
On arrival the course looked in great condition and the surface of the greens, cut and rolled, looked particularly impressive.
Throughout the whole of the morning the weather behaved but only one player managed to beat the course and return an under-par score. Tom Ibbertson from Hearsall who won the Open in 2015 at Harborne handed in a score of 71 (-1). Tom was closely followed by fellow Hearsall member Chanon James on level par.
Then followed a trio of players on one over par, Ahmed Ismail (Handsworth), Chris Freeman from Ladbrook Park who was leading Professional and Stephen Creed from Stratford on Avon. A further shot back was Luke Allen on 74 and then five players on 4 over par 75’s. This included Dan Bardsley (Moor Hall), Ryan Burton (Ladbrook Park and 2nd Professional), Louis Sanders (Copt Heath), David Benson-Francis (Forest of Arden) and Alex Ford (Copt Heath).
In all there were ten players only 4 shots from the lead after round one.
Early in the afternoon before many of the late starters had headed back out for the second round the heavens opened (thankfully with no electrical element). Due to the amount of water in such a short space of time, a couple of greens quickly became unplayable. With that news our starter Ernie Stene and Referee Tim Knight we redeployed onto squeegee duty along with having a helpful hand from Nick Jenkins to clear the greens and make them playable once more.
After the main downpour all eyes were on the ever threatening radar picture and dark skies above, however we were let off and only had a few little showers for the rest of the afternoon.
As the scores began coming in from round two a few changes in the order came in, with the most significant being first round leader Tom Ibbertson, couldn’t keep the morning momentum going and returned an afternoon round of 79 moving him out of the pack.
Louis Sanders improved on his morning round by two with a 73. However, Chris Freeman and Stephen Creed matched their morning rounds which didn’t do them any harm but with Chanon James posting an afternoon 73 meant he would finish one shot ahead of them and snatch the runner up position.
Coming out of the pack, returning by far the best round of the day, a fantastic 5 under par 67 was Alex Ford. This 67 gave Alex an overall total of 2 under par and along with it the title of 2021 Warwickshire Open Champion!
Starting on the first hole for his afternoon round Alex found himself one over par after 4 holes, and commented that he struggled on the holes he should have birdied, and birdied the ones he shouldn’t have. Luckily for him he didn’t struggle on many of them converting three birdies to round off his front nine and another three on the back.
A great performance and great to see his run of form continue after his impressive runner up position in the Warwickshire Boys Championship. Alex is also our County Boys Team Captain who this season have won the West Midland League and have qualified for the League Final (East Champions v West Champions) on 3rdOctober at Shrewsbury Golf Club. We wish Alex and his team the very best of luck for that event where Warwickshire last lifted the trophy in 2015.
Leading Professional in the event was Chris Freeman only 4 shots back and second Professional Sam Dodds (Coventry) a further 4 shots back.
For the Amateurs there is another element to this event where the scores from the Warwickshire Amateur Championship held earlier in the year get added to the scores from the Warwickshire Open to make an aggregate total where they contest for the impressive TP Cooke Salver.
With their fantastic showing in the Open, Chanon James (who is still only 16 years old) finished in 3rd place on 295, Alex Ford finished in 2nd with 292 and in first place four shots ahead of Alex on 288 was Louis Sanders from Copt Heath.
Shirley Golf Club always hosts these events well where Past Captains, Chairman and Committee members (past and present) regularly attend, watch some golf and come to say hello which is fantastic to have that connection and interest from the Club. The presentation was no different where we were ably assisted by current Club Captain John Meaden. Here we also got to give the Counties appreciation for hosting the event and our thanks to all the staff and volunteers at the Club who helped to make this event a success. It is very much appreciated and we hope to return soon.
My own personal thanks to our County Volunteers Claire Barker, Tim Knight, Ernie Stene, and our President Mark Reynolds who, with the weather we received, ended up maybe doing more than they had expected when they arrived!
For all 36 hole scores please CLICK HERE
For the TP COOKE Salver Leaderboard CLICK HERE