It was two tough days at the office for the competitors in the 4th event of the Devon Senior Order of Merit, the Bob Knott Trophy at Churston GC played on Sunday 12th and Monday 13th May.

The event is played in memory of one of Devon’s finest ever players. Bob was both a Men’s and Senior England international during his illustrious county career which was ended too soon.

On Sunday the competitors found a hard-running golf course, with very firm greens, the traditional couple of really sneaky pin positions and, above all, the “wrong” wind blowing for the course. Coming from the south east the front nine become tough to play, and holding the ball on the back nine a real challenge.

It was one Richard Ward (Dainton Park) was very much up for, producing an excellent 72 to lead by 2 shots from Paul Newcombe (East Devon), whilst 4 players shared third on 77; the Churston trio of Phil Lyons, Rick Osbourne and Simon Knapman plus Warren’s Tim Aggett.

Net 70 held the overnight lead in the Handicap competition, Richard sharing that number with Steve Finch (Churston) and John Fairman (Exeter)

When the field reconvened on Monday the same problems faced everyone, with the added bonus of the wind blowing twice as hard as it did on Sunday. Survival was the key. Very few managed it as scores ballooned.

The best gross and net sores of the day came from the same man, the home club’s Keith Benton, whose 75/69 vaulted him into 3rd place overall in the Handicap. John Fairman added 75 to his first round to total 145 and finish second, but the resurgent Brian Winteridge (Churston) played brilliantly for a net 69 on day 2 to go with the day one 73, a 142 total and the Handicap win.

I said conditions were difficult; no one in the overnight top 10 shot the front nine in under 40 shots. Everyone struggled, shelling shots as they went. Rick Osbourne (79) and Tim Aggett (78) showed what could be done, shooting level and 1-over coming back, but both had started too far back and dropped too many shots going out to really challenge the leaders finishing 5th and 3rd respectively, whilst Paul Richards (Ilfracombe) was the soul of consistency with a pair of 78s to eventually be 4th

Mind you the leaders were doing their best to give everyone a chance. When Ward missed a nasty short putt on the final hole he and Newcombe were tied on 153. Play off.

Down the 240-yard 1st. A pair of excellent 3s. Back up the 18th, again halved in pars, Newcombe’s birdie putt just sliding low. Back down the 1st; both hitting drivers because of the wind, tee shots both to the right. Ward chipped some 12 feet past the hole, Newcombe fashioned a magnificent running shot up the bank with a hybrid to 4 feet. Ward missed, Newcombe holed and retained the title he won last year.

Great thanks go to Churston for holding such an excellent event, and for allowing it to be a part of the Order of Merit. Updated tables are on the website.

Full results click here


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