CLECS Y CLWB / CLUB GOSSIP (late Aug, 2013) (03-09-2013)
Aled Bebb continues to report on the Club's activities and gives a detailed account of Richard James' Welsh Open performance at the Celtic Manor.
With the summer season approaching its finale, the local club’s golfers were kept busy representing the club as well as qualifying for various competitions within the club.
In the Redvers Llewellyn 4th qualifying round held over from a previous weather postponed date, Graham Tapp with an excellent 78-12-66 beat Jeremy Edmunds 74-8-66 on the back nine, both reducing their handicap by a shot. Third was Phil Talco 98-28-70 with Trevor Stables 97-26-71 in fourth position. The following week saw an extra Stableford held with several high handicappers in the top four. Iwan Evans with 41 points off 28 led from A.T.Evans 38 points off 10 just beating Anthony Davies 38 off 28 on countback. George Shepherd, 36 off 20, was fourth.
Meanwhile the Tigers have lost their bite and suffered a bit of a mauling away in Machynys losing by 8 matches to 1 and then losing at home to South Pembs by 5 matches to 4. The Super Six team fared no better taking on a strong Ashburnam team at Cardigan and losing by six matches to nil. However in the Jeff Harries Bowl semi-final, the Tigers found their form again on the Cardigan links course and out-played the Glyn Abbey team by 6 matches to 1, progressing to the final. The Rabbits fared no better losing at home to South Pembs by 4 matches to 2.
The Seniors however fared much better and had a very good month, beating Llanidloes at home by 3 ½ matches to 1 ½ and going away to Borth and Ynyslas and returning with a 4 matches to 3 win. The Seniors also played in two Open Competitions. Sixteen members went to Llandrindod and two members ended in the prizes. Robert Haydon Jones came second in his category with 35 points while Anthony Evans was third in his category with 36 points. Anthony also won the award for being nearest the pin on the 6th hole winning the Presidents Prize, a wristwatch. Also a fair presentation frequented the Penrhos Open Seniors during their Open Week and the Aberystwyth Seniors maintained their dominance of the Penrhos Open with left hander Rob Mcburnie leading the way with 38 points. Emrys James was second on 36 points.
Local golfer Richard James brought his very busy “golfing holiday” home in Britain, from his education in America to an excellent climax by being invited to play in the ISPS HANDA WALES OPEN at the Celtic Manor in Newport. The invite came as reward for being one of the top three amateurs in Welsh Golf over the summer. He would go on to mix with the top golfers on the main European professional tour, past winners and Ryder Cup players like Paul Mckinley, Tomos Levet, Soren Hansen, Jeeve Milkah Singh and Phil Price as well as Past Open Championship winners like Darren Clarke and Michael Campbell. Indeed it would be the first time an amateur from Mid or West Wales had reached and played at this level.
The first day had seen the golfers go out in what turned out to be fairly quiet conditions and the early starters had posted impressive early scores of up to 7 under par to set a target. However after lunch the wind had got up and scoring was proving harder. Just as the luck of the draw had it Richard James went out for his 1st round at 2.15 p. m. when the wind had increased. He was ably looked after by his caddie Dai Blair in the company of two professional golfers Andreas Hartu of Denmark and Magnus Carlsson of Sweden and their caddies. Richard showed no nerves and played the first par 4 in par but a poor drive on the second par 5 led him to being plugged in a green side bunker in three. Taking two to escape the bunker a good single putt kept the damage down to a single bogey. On the par 3 third played into the teeth of the wind he found the putting surface only to three putt to go 2 down. Worse was to follow on the 4th par 4 hole due to a pushed drive. A difficult chip and three putts resulted in a double bogey and a round looking decidedly rocky being four down after four. On the fifth despite not finding the fairway with his drive and as a result going well through the green in two, but an excellent up and down meant he saved his par. Similarly on the next another par four he got his par to remain on 4 over. But on the next the 7th a par three he put his drive into sand and failed to get up and down and now was 5 over after 7. He steadied the ship on the par 4 eighth due to a very good second putt. On the huge par five ninth played alongside the river Usk he got on the green in regulation but another missed second putt resulted in a six and a score of six over after the first nine holes. Although he found the green on the par tenth a long putt on the lightning fast green went five feet past the hole and the return putt was missed to bogey another hole and go 7 down.
The 11th, was another par five, and despite a good drive he put his second into a green side bunker. Luckily a very good escape sand shot and single putt resulted in his first birdie of the round to go six over. The 12th saw him rescue a moderate drive with a good iron second and a pleasant chip and single putt. The 13th a par three over water saw another comfortable par achieved and the confidence was beginning to return to his game. The 14th par 4 again saw a slightly wayward drive resulting in his inability to control his second which ended in another deep green side bunker. Another escape from the sand saw him faced with a fast breaking putt across the slope which he slotted again to save his par. The 15th a driveable par four saw him hit his best drive of the round so far, the ball pitching on the green, narrowly missing the flag for an Eagle but fortunately just holding the apron of the green and a comfortable 2 putt down the slope resulted in another birdie to go to 5 over. The 16th par four at 499yds into the wind was arguably one of the toughest holes of the day but after a good drive Richard put his second just short of the green and chipped dead and holed a good second putt to remain on 5 under. The 17th 211yds par three played also played into the wind saw Richard nail a three iron pin high, nine feet from the hole and another single putt for a two put him on 4 under. The last 575yds par 5 saw very few golfers manage to reach the green in two due to the strong facing wind. Richard had a wayward drive to deep rough but a good recovery saw him with a 150yds pitch to a well protected flag for his third. He found the green but a long way past the hole and facing a downhill fast putt. The first putt skirted the hole and went well by and the return was missed resulting in a disappointing bogey six and a five over par round.
All told after the nervous start to the round being five over after 7 to end up 5 over after 18 in very tough windy conditions with the greens extremely tricky and fast was a more than acceptable result though Richard felt frustrated that he could have done better.
On the second day although the wind was not as strong as the previous day the swirling breeze in the picturesque Usk valley made club selection very difficult. Starting the second round on the par 5 eleventh, after a good drive a pushed second shot resulted in Richard having to use all of his short game skills to pitch over a bunker and hold the ball on a green sloping away from him. He managed to hold the green and managed to 2 putt saving his par. A wayward drive on the 12th again saw him under pressure and though the recovery iron was good a missed putt saw him drop a shot to go one over for the round. The next a par three over water saw him drive the edge of the green and the ball run off towards the water. Luckily it held up just short and a delightful recovery chip to three feet and a putt saved his par. After a good drive on the 14th he again found sand with his approach but similar to the first round on the same hole he escaped with a bunker shot and single putt. On the 15th unlike the first day, he had a poor drive and ended in semi rough, meaning a good escape chip and 2 putts had to be completed for par on a hole that a birdie was there for the taking. On the long par 4 16th a pulled drive into a fairway bunker saw him drop another shot only reaching the green in three and 2 putting for a bogey. On the par 3 17th arguably his worst shot so far saw him in deep rough 90yds short and wide of the green but a lovely recovery shot on to the green and two putts kept the damage down to a single bogey to go three over. Following two bogeys he approached the 18th positively and despite not putting his drive on the fairway was able to put his second in the perfect position short of the lake and slope protected green. A sweet chip to six feet allowed him to single putt for a birdie and return to two over after the first nine holes of his second round.
Starting his back nine of his round on the par 4 first Richard with the honour had a great drive splitting the fairway and consequently was able to attack the flag with a wedge to six feet and the following single putt returned him to just one over. But his next hole the par 5 second turned out to be his nemesis hole. Inexplicably a drive pulled out of bounds towards the adjoining Usk river resulted in having to reload and taking three off the tee, and despite another ordinary drive, a good approach, a chip and two putts meant a first double bogey 7 returned him to three over on a hole that cost him three shots over par in the two rounds. At the next a par three over water Richard was again not accurate enough and ended in a bunker on a down slope thirty yards from the flag. A lovely sand shot and a good five foot putt for par returned the smile to his face. On the relatively long par 4 on the fourth a beautiful drive again splitting the fairway and a classical iron approach to ten feet, followed by a single putt for a birdie.
With the wind getting stronger being patient and keeping the ball in play was obviously the tactics needed to keep his game steady. This Richard managed to do on the next two holes. On the 5th an iron off the tee for safety and another good long iron to below the hole and a straight forward two putt obtained par. On the sixth skirting the huge central lake another careful three wood short of fairway bunkers followed by a good iron approach and two putts meant another par. On the par three 7th a miscalculated iron left him short in a green side bunker and though he escaped comfortably the following two putts put another bogey on his card to go three over. On the 8th par 4 a three iron drilled down the middle of the fairway and a good approach and two putts gave him another par. The daunting 580yds ninth came next with several bunkers on the drive. Richard avoided these bunkers with a huge drive over 300yds into the cross wind ending up facing a blind shot of over 280yds to the green. With nothing to lose he went for the green drawing the ball around some protruding trees alongside the flowing Usk river and reached the green comfortably. As luck would have it the flag was positioned towards the front and Richard’s ball had ended right at the back of a long green. A good 34yd putt ended 8 feet short and a missed second putt meant that a five for par was scant reward for two huge and brave approaches. The last hole was the par 3 tenth and though the drive was acceptable three putts resulted in a bogey to leave the round on 4 over.
The total of 9 over for the two rounds was somewhat disappointing in one sense. But when you compare the returns of other more experienced golfers who also ended on nine over, like Darren Clarke (British Open Winner two years ago) J.M.Singh and P.Larrazabal it does put his achievement in context. His two co players Hartu and Carlsson were very complimentary of his ability and impressed with his attitude and both were sure that he had the game to improve. Both incidentally made the cut.
If Richard who has now gone back to America to continue his education on and off the fairways, improves in the next nine months as much as he has done in the last nine, then he will surely be impressing even further next year. The support that he has had from his family and friends who followed him round the Celtic Manor for two days gave him a great moral boost for which he was very grateful. Supporters from the three local clubs Aberystwyth, Penrhos and Borth and Ynyslas were also there to cheer him on. With Zack Galliford of Borth following in Richard’s path on the American College system, hopefully we will have two players from the area in next year’s Welsh Open.
Richard ended up being the best joint amateur with rival David Boote both on 9 over and with rounds of 76 and 75 recorded must be proud of his achievement on a course, the television commenters described as a “serious challenge” especially in the tough wind, and “a real monster” by ex Ryder Cup player Tomos Levet. The final winning score was only eight under by Frenchman Gregory Bourdy shows the difficult challenge the course presented this year with only 14 players managing to beat par at the end.