Geoff Maher retains top spot thanks to his strong places in the first two competition of Winter although Adam Griffiths is now making a move reducing his lead to 31 points. Chris Molyneux and Dave Peters drop to 3rd and 4th with Paul Bladens win seeing him leap into 5th place 14 points ahead of recent 3rd place finisher Noel Robertson in 6th.
This winter we are running the Order of Merit over the 5 Single Stableford events we contest. Run the same as the Summer OOM with the top 32 places receiving points the first two events have now been contested and the table is taking shape. Leading the way is Geoff Maher with 170 points thanks to his first and third place showings. Chris Molyneuxs excellent 2nd and 9th finishes leave him as the closet chaser on 110 points with Dave Peters in 3rd on 104 points thanks to his November win. Next round is to be contested on Saturday 14th January.
It has felt like Summer never got started this Year with numerous comps affected by rain and miserable conditions. Nevertheless we have been treated to some excellent golf again and so many new winners names now feature on the honours boards. While we all go out at least once a Year and think we have cracked it Golf is a cruel mistress and soon brings us tumbling down.
The order of merit is one of the most prestigious prizes at Helsby as it reflects the players who have attained a high playing level throughout the season. Many Helsby greats have taken the prize, a prize that should be at the top of most of our golfing aims. To have your name sitting proudly in gold letting on the honours showcasing a brilliant year you will always reflect upon.
And so to this Years prize, now the Challenge Cup is completed all points have been added and the Order of Merit for 2016 is complete. Simon Pay takes the overall OOM for the second time completing yet another outstanding year at Helsby. Pay was pushed all the way by Charlie Fletcher whos Challenge Cup victory propelled him into 2nd spot just 31 agonising points short. Tom Rowland was best of the rest his qualifying form didn’t match up to his blistering non qualification results such as his scratch cup victory. Alan Rigby again pipped Jon Sharpe despite Sharpes late season run giving him a 337 point haul. Chairman of greens Peter Simpson finished a solid 2016 in 10th claiming the presidents prize along the way to amassing 283 points in total. Captains prize winner Simon Begley claims 12th spot 4 ahead of new member Jack Carroll who claimed 215 points overall and has dramatically improved his handicap since joining.
So another successful Summer season finishes at Helsby Golf Club and now attention shifts to the Winter Order of Merit series.
We have a new leader in Lee Horton thanks to his back nine of 5 under par Nett. Hortons 52.87 total is even more impressive considering it has been achieved over just 12 rounds. The eclectic is still very tight with 0.9 separating the top 8 positions.
Despite not playing Phil Starkey retains top spot in the eclectic although Simon Pay has joined Jaime Hodgkinson in 2nd closing within .13 of the lead. John Cheesbroughs recent form has seen him move up 12 places to 16th just 3 off top spot, very tight.
Simon Pay improves his lead by 1 with Charlie Fletcher now 4th one behind past champion Jaime Hodgkinson. Jon Sharpe has moved within 4 of 4th now and will still fancy his chances of making the semi finals.
So with both days of Captains weekend counting towards OOM points and the eclectic still very much alive how do things stand?
Order Of Merit
Obviously the biggest move came from Captains Prize winner Simon Begley, moving into 8th place thanks to his 105 weekend point haul. Begley is now 146 points behind leader on his own Simon Pay. Pay increased his lead after briefly getting caught by Charlie Fletcher opening up a 27 point gap over Junior Captain Sam Long winner of Captains Day 1. Fletcher drops down to third after a disappointing Captains showing, now 63 points a drift of top spot and threatened by Tom Rowland and Gross weekend winner Alan Rigby with just 30 points separating them all.
A tightly packed eclectic is approaching the final stretch of the Summer season, with just 3 shots separating the top 18 its anyone’s to win. We have a new eclectic leader, Phil Starkey moves to 53.62 thanks to his birdie on the 15th, just 0.13 ahead of new 2nd place holder Jaime Hodgkinson who birdied 8 & 13 to move to 55 Gross with just 4 holes left un-birdied. Tom Rowland moves into 3rd improving his eclectic by 3 thanks to birdies at 3, 8 and 15 joining Hodgkinson on 55 gross. Tim Morris makes a big move from 37th to 22nd place birding the 1st and reducing his double bogey 6 at 17 to a par 4, with only 8 rounds recorded could Morris make a late charge?
After the bright sunny weather of Saturday competitors concluded Sundays round in overcast conditions with threats of rain. That rain came in batches throughout the day, heavy at times but a refreshing break from the humid heat. Playing in the same order as Saturday proceedings got underway at 7:30am with players hoping, dreaming and chasing personal goals for their final 18 holes. The final round was played off a retuned set of tees that saw the course playing 200 Yards longer than the previous day with new angles and different choices to be made.
First to enter the arena again was Tony Archer who followed Saturdays 71 with a 69 to post the very early lead, a level par 140, a score that has won many Captains prizes previously but surely not 2016 with a beautifully presented course and light conditions. Requiring a 81 Gross to tie Archers lead after a disappointing first day, Nathan Kennedy fired out of the blocks early, the 19 handicapper made the turn having dropped just 4 shots. Perhaps a light refreshment at the halfway house or the short spell of rain knocked Kennedy off his stride as his back nine didn’t match the front although he would go on to post a well fought 69. One better than Archer after day one and determined to improve on a frustrating day Mark Poland got about his business, back to back birdies on 7 and 8 saw him turn 1 under par gross. Poland would go on to finish the weekend 2nd overall after signing for a 66 nett a 4 than better combined score of 136. The morning was turning into a scoring frenzy as par was equalled or broken time and again. Joining Poland at the top and enjoying the morning conditions was overnight joint leader Ryan Edghill. Despite playing with a serious injury caused by his good lady, which was really just a small scratch, Edghill overcame some near card wreckers. Doubles at 13, 15 and 17 looked to have thrown his chances away but a strong refocused tee shot on 18 and a 5 foot par putt saw Edghill move into 2nd overall on a CPO behind Poland eventually finishing 3rd overall.
Past Captain Brian Prince had a weekend to remember as he scooped best Vet with a healthy 138 showing for the weekend and a joint 4th overall placing. Round of the day came from another injured golfer, Neil Brow fresh from a recent little finger injury produced his best Golf of the Year to post a fine 72 – 7 – 65, parring in from the 8th following a topsy turvy opening 7 holes. Brow picked up the prize for best 2nd day alongside Junior Captain Sam Long who claimed best 1st day as well as nearest the pin on 11 with Ben Simpson receiving the prize for 18.
71 + 69 – 140 total was good enough for Helsby veteran Alan Rigby to claim the weekends best gross. Rigby got his hands on the new best gross Captains trophy which was recently found in a loft in Cornwall and returned to the club after it was last presented as the Captains prize 98 years ago.
For the second day running 18 remained birdie free, for Simon Begley par was good enough after his first day triple had cost him the overnight lead. After the Simons dominating Day One, Begley would be the only one on Sunday to break 70. Understandably a little nervous being in contention Begley shot a steady level par front, the couple of doubles he chalked up canceled out by his strong pars on 2 and 4. The short greeting from the Captain and his team in the halfway house clearly settled Begley down, putting a 3 hole run of pars together before entering Helsby’s notorious back 6. A more than respectable bogey followed on 13 before a double at 14 cut his 3 under score to 2. 15 was playing long and hard, off the stones and a back left pin all into wind made this a potential card wrecker. Begley again composed his nervous and previous hole disappointment to sink his put for 5 followed by another at 16 and stand on 17 still 2 better than par. The final battle would be fought here, sending his first tee shot out of bounds, playing three off the tee Begley found the cut grass, punched his 4th shot, chipped to 10 foot and hold a solid nervy putt to record a double that brought him back to one better than par. Unbeknown to Begley he now needed a par on 18 to claim his maiden win and a place in Helsby history. Taking his trusty 3 iron he missed the green pin high right, short sided he knocked his chip to 5 feet before again holing out excellently to finish the weekend 67 + 68 – 135 and claim the Captains Prize 2016 by 1 shot.
The Overall Captains Prize standings can be viewed Here