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Roller Coaster of a Day For The Norfolk Tour Grand Final!
Sheringham Golf Club hosted the Grand Final of the Golf Days UK Norfolk Tour 2013 last Friday, 15th November. Bright sunshine and light winds provided the perfect send off to the season and players were in for a real treat with the course playing superbly for all.
The top fifteen from the tour took to the fairways, knowing that the winner on the day would be crowned the Golf Days UK Norfolk Tour Champion 2013 and armed with live scoring, a dramatic final day was about to unfold.
Through the first six holes, Cain Esherwood looked in control and commanded a 3 shot lead from the field, but this was to be the first of many players taking the top spot on the day. At the half way stage, Esherwood had managed to drop a couple of shots and open the door to the rest of the field and Order of Merit winner, Adam Saunders led the way with a gross level par front nine and sitting at the top of the leaderboard on -3 to his ¾ handicap of 5.
As the players took on the back nine, Saunders found trouble on the 13th with a lost ball and then a bogey on the par three 15th dropped him back to +1 for the day and with a handful of players improving put Saunders almost out of contention to do the double.
Andy Riseboro – playing at the course where a hole is named after his Grandfather – took the lead and became the latest player to hit -3 to their handicap. Standing on the 18th tee, Riseboro had a two stroke lead and looked to have the crown in his hand. Unfortunately for Riseboro, he struggled on the tricky 18th and dropped two shots to drop back to -1 and be clubhouse leader. Riseboro was in the second group out and had to watch on as the players behind him closed the gap. With Riseboro dropping two shots, this blew the event wide open and suddenly five players were in with a chance of making equalling his score and forcing a play off.
Riseboro could only stand beside the 18th green with a gathering group of players to watch the players try and equal his score. They came and went, Iain Yule had to make par on the 18th to tie, but just came up short with par attempt. Focus then turned to the second to last group – James Hart, Cain Esherwood and Jon Batten. After making a poor start to his round and being last on the leaderboard, Hart steadily rallied and got himself back in the mix by playing the last 14 holes in level par, getting himself to -1 and a tie with Riseboro with one hole to play.
Esherwood and Batten needed to make birdies and Hart only required a par to make to play off. Batten struggled on the 18th and could only manage a bogey 5. Esherwood played his approach to the left edge of the green and with the pin placed towards the right side had a long putt to hole to make the play off. Hart pulled his approach to the left of green had a difficult chip shot over the greenside bunker.
With a number of players watching on as Hart lined up his chip, he unfortunately only just made the edge of the green with his effort and with almost the same putt as Esherwood left, his chances of making the play off were evaporating. Esherwood agonisingly left his putt inches short of the hole. Up stepped Hart, who had be shown a good line from Esherwood. Hart hit the putt with perfect pace and the ball duly disappeared into the hole from 30 feet to force the play off with Riseboro.
There was still a chance of Adam Saunders or Bruce McQuade making the play off, should they have holed their approach shots into the 18th. Saunders came closest with the ball just rolling past the cup, but with their approach shots not dropping, this left Riseboro and Hart with a sudden death playoff.
Hart won the toss and elected to tee off first, with both players looking nervous on the tee, they both managed to hit good shots and leave themselves mid iron approaches into the raised green.
Both players found the green in regulation and with a small army of people watching on both players took three putts to complete the hole. Hart and Riseboro moved onto the par five 2nd and again both hit great drives with Riseboro just gaining the advantage. Hart hit a poor second and with 230 yards left to the green, Riseboro decided to lay up and take the safe option, to which he punched a perfect hybrid towards the hole.
Hart then played his third – a beautiful long iron which came to rest at the back of green, some 40 feet from the hole. Riseboro had a short pitch which he played to the front of the green and held the advantage over Hart by being under half the distance from the hole as his opponent. With Hart leaving his first putt some fifteen feet short of the hole and taking three putts to get the ball into the hole, Riseboro looked to have the prize in his hands. Nerves took over and Riseboro knocked his putt some four feet past the hole and failed to make the return putt meant the two players moved onto playoff hole number three!
Both players again hit good tee shots, Hart’s ball finishing left of the fairway in the light rough and Riseboro in the middle of the fairway. Hart hit another superb long iron to the fringe of the green and with Riseboro pulling his approach into a bunker some thirty yards short of the green, it looked a formality that Hart would close the match out and secure victory. With one of the toughest shots in golf to play – a thirty yard bunker shot – Riseboro did remarkably well to get his ball onto the putting surface. Hart played his chip to within six feet of the hole and Riseboro knew he would have to make a long putt to stay in the game. Riseboro sent the ball towards the hole and with plenty of pace the ball headed straight for the middle of the cup, due to the pace of the putt the ball failed to drop and ‘hopped’ out of the hole. Hart duly stepped up and sank his putt to take the crown!
As the Golf Days UK Norfolk Tour Champion, James Hart won a trip to the world famous Gleneagles Resort in Scotland to stay and play golf in Ryder Cup year!
We would just like to take this opportunity to thank all the players who have played on the Golf Days UK Norfolk Tour and we look forward to seeing you all again next year!
The 2014 schedule will be released in the near future, so check back soon to see the dates and venues!