With a forecast of high winds and sand storms 72 players made up the field in the 2 day 2011 Club Championship stroke play event.
Last year’s champion golfer for the Men, Alistair Purves was out to defend his title but Terri Lyons, the Ladies champion of 2010 could not make the event. The weather gods were being kind as play got underway at 7:00am on Day 1 with just a light breeze to greet the first group. As the day went on the wind picked up slightly so it was surprising that only Richard Ellis took advantage of the easier early conditions as he returned a 76 which was the best of the early starters.
Richard was only overtaken later into the day when Eoin Cunniffe returned a fine 74 and the inform Jim Muirhead was one shot back with his 75. Lex Cassiere also placed himself well with his 76. Alistair could only manage a 78 as he set about defending his title from a year ago and other Day 1 contenders were Edwin Scheepers and Dane Sandford who both returned 77’s. The low net Man on Day 1 was Alex Tinson with a host of players close by as he posted a 68. The Ladies event saw the pre tournament favorite Lindsay Brown open up a nice advantage but it was the battle for second that placed Michelle Sandford, Mandy Taylor and Jenny Brown close together with only 2 shots separating all 3 players.
With the draw for day 2 being made in score order it gave the early starters a chance to turn things around and place some pressure on the leaders. One person who could not take advantage of this was Dave Mitchell who although improving on his Day 1 score made no inroads into the leaders and had to settle for a tie for 64th. It wasn’t Dave’s best weekend but a special mention needs to be made to himself and David Purcell of Al Ain Automatic Irrigation for their great support in this year events.
As the leaders got underway it was all to play for but soon in to the top 3 Ladies rounds it was clear that Lindsay was in no mood to let her advantage slip. She returned an excellent 75 on Day 2 which left the others battling out for the remaining podium places. Congratulations to Lindsay and well done in adding your name to the list of Ladies Club Champions. In the end it was a mother and daughter one, two as Jenny Brown moved from fourth to second due to her better gross score on the second day over Michelle Sandford who had to settle for third with both players overall totals being the same. Anne Quintino after her steady 73 net on Day 1 had to settle for the runners up spot in the division as Anne McCarthy after a slightly disappointing first day returned a net 71 on the Saturday to overtake her namesake and claim the top place in the division, Mandy Taylor after missing out on the gross prizes made up the third place.
The Mens divisions saw plenty of movement on Day 2 and overnight leader Alex Tinson had to settle for the runners up spot in division B with his 140 total as Saif Al Aryani with his great net 68 pushed him out by 1 shot. Making up third place in the division was Harsha Guruprasad with his total of 145 betting a host of players on the same total with his better net score on Day 2 of 68.
Division A for the Men went to Andrew Marty with consistent returns of 70 and 73 for his 143 total who just did enough to push Heinrich Van Niekerk in to second with his total of 144. Clement Mustchin who also returned a 2 day total of 144 had to settle for third place as Heinrich pushed him out from a count back over their second day scores.
All this left was for the conclusion for the Mens club champion and all 9 players in the last 3 flights were still in contention.this continued into the round and the business end of proceedings saw our final group come through the 10th hole with 7 players within 5 shots of the leaders Lex Cassiere and Eoin Cunniffe. An excellent birdie at 11 saw Dane Sandford get himself in contention with only 7 holes left. He kept a good run going up until he bogeyed 16 and double bogeyed 17 when attacking the pin to make up some ground. Lex found trouble at hole 12 where he doubled to go 3 behind young Eoin, who played some solid nerveless golf to be leading by 2 with only 5 holes to go. Eoin then dropped a shot at 14 to open the door for the chasing pack, Richard Ellis capitalizing by making birdie at 14 so he and Lex were only 1 behind Eoin with 4 to play. 3 pars at the 15th from our top 3 players ensured a nail biting finish was in store for the huge gallery following. All 3 players showed no nerves as they all hit good tee shots off 16 with no-one in danger of succumbing to the depths of the lake, unlike a lot of the field in round 1.
Lex failed to par 16 and then made another bogey on 17 to all but kiss his chances of glory goodbye. Eliis then played a mercurial approach onto the 16th green only to leave his birdie attempt a few inches short. Eoin took on the tight pin position with a “balls of steel” wedge shot and made his par to take a 1 shot lead over Richard with 2 holes remaining. Richard then, adrenaline pumping, muscled his iron through the 17th green into the back bunker. Eoin then played a wonderful shot that probably sealed the title onto the heart of the green with controlled aplomb. Ellis failed to get up and down from the sand allowing Eoin to 2 putt for a 2 shot cushion going to the last. Meanwhile ahead, Lex had got himself a birdie chance on the final hole to perhaps force a play off, but it wasn’t to be as he made par to be clubhouse leader on a 155 total. Eoin blocked his tee shot right into the thick rough on 18 as Richard pumped his drive straight down the middle to setup and intriguing finale. Eoin found his ball, but could only move it 30 yards back out into the middle of the fairway then hit a dead straight shot 20 yards short of the green.
Richard pushed his approach into the semi rough but hit a great wedge under pressure to 14 feet for birdie. Eoin showed maturity beyond his 14 years by clipping his wedge approach to inside 12 feet for par. When Richard missed his birdie chance it allowed Eoin the luxury of having 2 putts to secure the championship, which he duly did with the steady nerve and class he displayed throughout the tournament. Congratulations Eoin, may it be the first of many more victories to come.
Overall Winner Eoin Cunniffe
Overall Runner Up Richard Ellis
Overall Third Place Lex Cassiere
Division Winner Andrew Marty
Division Runner Up Heinrich Van Niekerk
Division Third Place Clement Mustchin
Division Winner Saif Al Aryani
Division Runner Up Alex Tinson
Division Third Place Harsha Guruprasad
Overall Winner Lindsay Brown
Overall Runner Up Jenny Brown
Overall Third Place Michelle Sandford
Division Winner Anne McCarthy
Division Runner Up Anne Quintino
Division Third Place Mandy Taylor