English Seniors Stroke Play Championship

There were 7 Devonian Seniors in the starting line-up for the English Seniors Stroke Play Championship, played at the Blackmoor and Army Golf Clubs in Hampshire in the first week of June.

County Senior Team Manager Colin Papworth (Teignmouth) was joined by Tim Aggett (Warren), Ian Barnes and Paul Vicary (both Saunton), Tony Allsopp (Tiverton), Chris Audin (Exminster) and Rick Osborne (Churston) in surviving one of the lowest ballots for the tournament in its history to be part of the 288-man field which commenced the event on June 2nd.

The field is split in half for the first two days, with 18 holes on each of the two courses before the Top 80 and ties played the final round on Friday at Blackmoor. Aggett, Vicary, Audin, Barnes and Osborne all started at Blackmoor with Allsopp and Papworth at Army.

Vicary and Papworth were best placed of all after day 1 where their 5-over rounds put both well inside the Top 80 after both courses inflicted some serious damage on a substantial part of the field. The leaders produced some stunning golf, Aggett playing with 1st round leader Mike White of Wiltshire who produced a stunning 4-under 65. All the other Devon players had work to do to survive the cut line.

On a day when there was only one sub-par score on either course Aggett’s level par 71 at Army partly rectified his disastrous finish the previous evening at Blackmoor and saw him go from 199th after a first-day 80 to tied 57th well inside the Top 80. Vicary did not make the start he wanted (again at Army) but showed tremendous grit to first steady the ship and then play the demanding final half dozen holes in level to finish 9-over for the tournament. Both Devonians birdied the demanding final hole, Aggett chipping in from the fringe some 20 feet from the hole, Vicary holing a huge, breaking putt up the massive slope to the back hole position. They were the only two Devonians who qualified to play the final day.

The others were not so fortunate, Papworth coming closest but missing the cut by 2 shots after a “loose” (his own description) round at Blackmoor. Audin had a chance at Army, but fell foul of the hugely demanding finish to end up a further couple of shots back.

On day 3 Aggett produced 74 at Blackmoor to move slightly further up the order, eventually finishing T46th overall, but Vicary slipped back with a 79 to T56th. Both felt the impact of their efforts on day 2, plus the lack of practise in real, serious tournament play over the Covid period, had affected their ability to concentrate at the level necessary throughout a tournament of this stature. Aside from their overall finishes Aggett was 12th on the 60-64 category, Vicary 5th in the 65+ category

Sunningdale’s Rupert Kellock defended the title he won at Woodhall Spa in 2020, finishing with level par 69 at Blackmoor for a +1 total for the tournament and holding off the very determined twice-former Champion Ian Attoe (Worplesdon) to win by a shot. Third were newly minted Senior and former British Amateur Champion Warren Bladon from Kenilworth, England Senior International Richard Jones from Rotherham and Stephen Jensen from The Wisley on +3.

Following his brilliant opening round Mike White (West Wilts) finished T14th at +9, Cornwall’s Guy Norris (Trevose) finished on +14 and T32nd, for Dorset Ferndown’s Gary Earl was +19 and T56th with Vicary, with Mike Slater of Bowood making up the final day South West Group contingent at +21.

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