The Covid delayed County Championship was last week staged at St. Austell Golf Club by the kind permission of the club and its members, with the golf course presented in a great condition, as it was in 2011 when St. Austell previously staged the event, in what was their Centenary Year.
The Champion that year was Tom Fox and with a clear liking for the course he made his intentions clear on the qualifying day by leading the way with scores of 64 (-5) and 72 to claim the top seed.
Eight members from Tehidy Park Golf Club took their place in the starting line-up of 72 golfers, bidding to make the cut-off point of the top 32 from the 36-hole medal. Tehidy secured a 50% strike rate with Fox joined by Justin Barnard (71/69), Ian Veale (73/71) and Josh Chapman (78/73) who survived a play-off where 7 golfers fought it out for 6 places!
Not so fortunate this time were Tom Chapman, brothers Ben & Matt Lamb and the Cornwall President Andrew Clotworthy.
In the first round of the knock-out stages Fox accounted for Alex McHugh (Mullion), with Veale, playing immediately behind Fox, defeating another Mullion player in Jamie Greet to set up a second-round match with Fox.
Still in the top-half of the draw and Justin Barnard made comfortable work in beating Luke Hart (Newquay) on the 15th hole. The lone Tehidy player in the bottom half of the draw was Josh Chapman who was pitted against the runner-up from 2011, Josh Greenaway, and what a scalp it would prove to be for Chapman with a hard fought win on the first extra hole (19th). His reward was a second-round tussle with the 2014 County Champion, Matt Richards.
First up was Fox & Veale who led out the round of 16. Fox started with a birdie to take an early lead, and it was one that he would not surrender as Veale struggled to recapture the scintillating form that saw him cruise to a victory in the morning. Fox eventually signed off with a win on the 13th hole to book his place in the Quarter-Final.
Barnard once again made short work of his opponent, with a win on the 14th hole against Simon Hobbs (Bowood). When Chapman succumbed to the hugely experienced Richards just two Tehidy players remained and with both being in the top half of the draw they were on a collision course come the semi-finals if they could both notch up a win in the morning.
Once again, the top seed was up first, and Fox would earn a hard-fought victory over Joe Reynard (Trevose) on the 18th green. Could Barnard make it an all Tehidy Park semi-final? Of course he could with a superb win against the vastly experienced ex-Devon county player, Adam Bridgewater, who is now a member at Launceston. Barnard claimed a 17th hole win to set up the afternoon clash, and what a match it would prove to be…………..
Fox always had the lead but never more than two-holes with Barnard pushing him all the way. The short Par 3, 16th hole would surrender a birdie to Barnard to reduce the deficit to one-hole and when Barnard chipped to within five feet of the hole on the short Par 4, 17th hole it appeared the match would be squared up with one hole to play. By his own admission Justin said he hit a poor putt that would mean he remained 1-down and when both players parred the 18th hole Fox would contest another final in the Championship, but who would he play?
The answer to that question would be Jared Mortimore of Truro, who would be playing in his second final, having finished as the runner-up to Conor Wilson in 2017.
A beautiful day welcomed the players on Sunday at St. Austell Golf Club with the promise of some great golf for those that turned up to watch. Mortimore made the early running and after 12 holes of the 36-hole final he had built a three-hole lead. At this point he could never have imagined that he would take lunch trailing by two-holes, but this was to be the case as Fox reeled off five of the last six holes, including a classy birdie on the 18th to address the balance.
The afternoon was a typically nip and tuck affair with Fox taking the lead to three-holes on several occasions only to be pegged back. After 27 holes the lead was as it was at lunch. Fox would win the 28th but Mortimore the 29th (Fox 2-up). Fox won the 30th and Mortimore the 31st (Fox 2-up). Fox won the 32nd and yet again Mortimore would win the next (Fox 2-up with three holes of regulation play remaining).
The 34th hole (the short ‘postage stamp’ Par 3, 16th) faced the players. Mortimore’s tee shot on the green to 20 feet, Fox to 12 feet………… Mortimore flashed his birdie attempt past knowing he had to hole as Fox cushioned his birdie attempt to the hole side. The anti-climax of Mortimore missing his par attempt to keep the match alive did nothing to dampen the achievement of Fox claiming his second county title with dad Mark on the bag, and mum, brother and wife in close attendance for a truly great ‘Team Fox’ achievement and another County Champion to add to the honours boards at TR14.
Welcome to Tehidy Park Golf Club Tom; the club are truly proud of you and embrace your amazing performance in becoming the County Champion. Well done also to the other TPGC members who played in the championship.
A final well done to the Cornwall Golf Union who were driven by Tehidy Park GC member and County President, Andrew Clotworthy to ensure that as many of the Union fixtures as possible could be staged in a safe and responsible manner – well done Andrew.