The first round of the Winter Order of Merit got off to a good start on the Lakes course on Saturday. Players had to contend with the high wind and a few spots of rain that threatened Rutland but that is nothing to what they will have to contend with once winter makes itself known! Renowned wind player Graham Smith dropped only three shots on the front nine and improved by completing the back nine in one under par to finish on 40 points. Playing of six, Graham said that he always enjoys playing in the wind as it adds an extra challenge. He had two shots chopped from his handicap and will play off four next Sunday.
Graham’s playing partner Peter Bagshaw, who plays off nine, also had a great round and was only one shot further back on 39 points: he was docked one shot. Another single figure handicapper, Simon Bateman off six, secured third place on countback and loses point five from his handicap. He edged out 2013 champion Steve Anderson and Chris Wheatland who both finished with 38 points.
Two former Captains, John Sparks and Bob Beverley, shared sixth place. They came in with 37 points, just one shot ahead of David Copley, Michael Fish, Gary Graham and Nick Cunnington who all scored 36 points to round off the top eleven.
Only time will tell if Graham can sustain the early lead as the week one winner has never managed to secure the end of season trophy. The Order of Merit moves to Sunday next week with many players returning from holidays to start their campaign of the twenty two week series.
Neil Harris said that he was very pleased that this has grown from the initial twenty competitors playing in it a few years ago, into a full club competition. Two of the rounds will be played in conjunction with Medal competitions, in November and March, competitors will have the choice of adding their score into the Order of Merit providing that they sign up for it at the same time as they sign up for the Medal and pay an extra £1 to the usual £3 Medal fee. The good news is that if they do well in the medal, they won’t be cut in the Order of Merit.
Due to the wrong information being displayed on the “How Did I Do” website, the wrong person was credited with winning the Ladies’ nine hole stableford last week. The actual winner was Christine Slattery. Unfortunately, this, along with my “ladies of a certain age” comment, meant that I was limping after an encounter with a very attractive gang of ladies in the clubhouse.
The Ladies Medal Winners competition took place on Sunday on the Lakes course in rain and gusting winds which really took its toll on the back nine. Sophie Beardsall playing off one had a great start with five pars and two birdies, she went on to win both the competition and the lowest gross prize. Liz Haughton, who seems to be in the top three almost every time she competes, was second and Ladies’ captain-in-waiting Bev Dolman who did such a good job with the Mixed Team during the year, took third place.