The early golfers stole the show at last week’s Accountancy Age Masters South-West regional final, in association with corporate finance specialist NMB-Heller, with the first three players to set off around the 18 holes managing to scoop the top three scores.
Playing in sweltering conditions at the beautiful St Pierre Park course near Chepstow, Chris Bicknell of Horwath Clark Whitehill pipped Richard Hill of KPMG to first place in the 23-player competition. Both scored 35 points under the stableford scoring system, but Bicknell scraped into the lead on a countback.
Malcolm Jones of the Ministry of Defence came third with 32.
The three, who had played together in the first group of four, expressed surprise at the coincidence, but said they had spurred each other on to play well. They also took time to consider their shots carefully, taking about five hours to finish a course which most complete in under four hours.
Hill took some comfort from losing the number one position to Bicknell by hitting the day’s longest drive, some 290 yards.
Players came from as far a field as the Midlands and the south coast and all said they had enjoyed the day.
Fears that the poor weather of the first regional final would be repeated disappeared as the morning mist lifted to reveal a sunny day.
But while the summer heat added to the enjoyment, it also served to make a tough course even more gruelling.
‘This course eats golf balls,’ quipped one player, referring to the frequent loss of balls in the hilly course’s many areas of rough ground.
‘The trees have got bigger since I was last here,’ said another competitor.
Summing up the feelings of most who participated, another sunburnt player said: ‘It’s a tough course but lovely weather for it. It beats working for a living.’
Celebrating his victory, Bicknell commented: ‘It’s a wonderful competition. I cannot understand why everyone doesn’t enter it.’
The six highest scorers will now go through to the national final, which will take place on 28 and 29 September at the Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club, the venue of last year’s British Masters tournament.
The remaining regional finals are: Home Counties, next Wednesday at Hertfordshire’s Brocket Hall; Midlands on July 8 at Warwickshire Golf Club. The South-East regional final took place yesterday at Nizels, Hildenborough in Kent.
LEADER BOARD SOUTH-WEST REGIONAL FINAL, ST PIERRE PARK, CHEPSTOW, 16 JUNE 1st Overall Chris Bicknell 2nd Overall Richard Hill 3rd Overall Malcolm Jones Qualifiers Simon Thomas David Chasemore Andy Jones Nearest pin John Potter Longest drive Richard Hill Handicap Points scored John Tomlinson 12 26 Malcolm Jones 14 32 Chris Bicknell 20 35 Duncan Campbell 18 24 Roger Merchant 21 22 John Potter 17 28 Paul Bennett 14 24 Russell Halliday 13 20 Richard Dare 10 27 David Chasemore 18 30 Colin Field 14 23 David Cairns 11 21 Duncan Bush 3 25 Bill Strang 18 22 Ian Smith 11 23 Julian Mumford 11 24 Michael Howard 11 22 Paul Salisbury 11 16 Andrew Jones 11 30 Adrian Sanders 14 23 Simon Lewis 14 26 Simon Thomas 10 31 Richard Hill 12 35
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