The odds are shortening on who will be the eventual winner of the Winter Order of Merit. With the last 3 games of the 24 game series being cancelled due to snow, it now comes down to a mad dash in the last round to try to get as many points as possible. Three weeks ago in round 21, anybody from 20th place upwards could have put a run together; when that was cancelled anybody in the top 12 still had a chance. The round 22 game came to a halt half way through thanks to snow laying on the greens making putting an impossibility.
In round 23 last weekend we were down to only the top five who had a chance to win. However, winter returned with a vengeance and for the final round it is really the top three who have the best chance. Club Captain Trevor Smith, who leads the series, Paul Jenkinson in second and Steve Anderson are now the main players who have any realistic chance of taking the win. With only fifteen points separating the three, if Paul or Steve wins, Trevor needs to come in no worse than second to take the overall win. If they have a complete nightmare on the course, Carl Causbrook and Tony Mould in fourth and fifth, some 35 points behind, could still take it. There are an awful lot of “ifs” but it has been that sort of up and down series this year. Former winner Adam Clegg is back this week after injuring his shoulder in a ski-ing accident, he and several others could still improve their positions. The leaders will be going out last as a three ball and they will no doubt be keeping a very watchful eye upon each other.
It isn’t just about the win however: players in the positions below the top three still have a lot to play for. The prizes go down to twelfth place and everybody from twentieth upwards still have chances to either get into the top twelve or to improve upon their position within the top twelve. Organiser Neil Harris has added a further twist to the competition to keep the interest going for players outside of the top twelve. He has put aside a separate fund to reward the top player outside of the main prizes with the most points gained in rounds played on a Saturday or Sunday.
The WOOM, as it is known, started last year on 20th October and after Neil changed the rules from the previous year to give a two shot penalty to the winner, one shot for second and a half for third, nobody has won it more than once. The final round will take place on the Lakes Course, snow permitting, on Sunday 7th April.
The WOOM has been confirmed as a club competition for next year but this doesn’t mean that the Winter League will disappear. Club Secretary Dennis Millington confirmed that the competition will still go ahead, providing there are enough entrants to make it a viable competition.
Sunday 24th March was also supposed to be the finals of the Winter League but that was also snowed off. The semi final was played the weekend before in atrocious conditions, high wind, snow, sleet and rain. Ben Gasson and Matt Asher were scheduled to play Peter Key and Peter Zimmer Smith, unfortunately Peter Key had to play them on his own as his partner couldn’t play in the semi final due to a long standing family commitment. Peter did very well to give Ben and Matt a game, he took it to the fourteenth where he finally lost five and three.
Pete Dickinson and Peter Smith beat Bill Skinner and Graham Day four and three and will now play Ben and Matt on a day to be set by Dennis Millington and whoever keeps throwing snow all over the course.