Golf – Three come to fore

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.

 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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