Club Championship 2020 – Scratch Cup report

This year’s Scratch Club Championship reverted back from the 36 holes on one day that has been the format for the past few years, to 18 holes on consecutive weekends. The change in format meant the sense of anticipation grew throughout the week, especially as it was so close at the top of the leader board.

Defending champion Munir Ahmed, who started the day five strokes back, parred every hole on the front nine. Unfortunately for Archie, the wheels came off at the turn with a string of bogeys and a triple. Unlucky Archie.

The evergreen Scotsman Tom Moore, champion in 2006, added a 73 to his first round 73 to finish at +16 for the Championship. New member Joe Brooks put together two 72s for a 144 total, +14.

The leading trio went out together to find a champion. Ben Plumridge and Ian Roche held the joint lead from the first round with three over par 68s, and David Watson was just one stroke behind with a 69.

In the early exchanges, Ian dropped a stroke at the first, but the big move was made on the par 5 second hole where David made an eagle 3 with a chip-in to the front right pin. Both David and Ian dropped shots at the third, but Ian bounced straight back with a birdie on 4. Ben was solidly parring his way around the front nine and well in the hunt. Unfortunately for Ian, Tricky Ricky lived up to its infamous name, as the back left pin position on the short 7th was his undoing. After finding the putting surface with his tee shot, his uphill approach putt just went past the pin leaving an awkward left to right breaking putt of three feet. It slipped by for the par, but sadly, so did the next two putts and in no time, Ian was 5 behind.

At the turn, David was one under par for the round, 3 over for the Championship. Ben was close by at 5 over for the Championship having dropped 2 strokes, and Ian was now at 8 over. David held a 3 shot lead with eight to play after Ben made a bogey 4 on the 10th, but within a matter of 30 mins, the lead was gone, after costly double bogeys at 11 and 14!

David was now at eight over for the Championship, the joint leader with Ben, and Ian was now right back in the hunt at 9 over par after a great birdie at the fourteenth. So it was all to play for over Ricky’s tough closing holes starting at the long uphill par 3. Ben was the only player to make par and now held the solo lead, as David and Ian both dropped a stroke. On the 16th, Ben’s par putt slid agonizingly across the face of the hole to give back his advantage, as both David and Ian made par 4s. Scores: Ben +9, David +9, Ian +10. David & Ian then both dropped shots at the crucial par 3 17th as Ben made a solid two putt par to take a one stroke lead to the last. A thunderous drive from Ben bored through the headwind and all the way to the bunker, just 65 yards from the green. David played his drive just to the left of the bunker leaving a sand wedge length shot in, but needing a birdie. Ben’s well struck bunker shot from the wet sand didn’t quite make the putting surface and then the spin zipped the ball away in the ‘Valley of Sin’ just short of the green. David’s chance was there, but it required a good shot to get close to the front pin position. Moments later, the ball stopped 18 inches past the hole for an almost certain birdie 3. Ben had to make his up and down for par to force a play off in what was a dramatic race to the wire. A well struck chip had a ‘look in’ as it went past the hole by three feet. So Ben was faced with a tricky putt down the green to tie the scores and ensure a play off. He holed it well to tie David at nine over par 139. Ian’s round finished with a solid par 4 on the last for a 141 total, just 2 back, and he will be looking back on the 7th hole as the costly moment.

So, in a repeat of the 2015 Club Championship, it was Ben and David who started back at the first for a sudden death play off. Ben won that day in 2015, and it was looking very good for a repeat victory when his tee shot at the first hit the green 20 feet left of the pin. David’s tee shot found the semi rough to the right of the green and needed a pitch across the slope. A well played chip headed up towards the back of the green where the pin was located, but gathered pace and finished around 12 feet below the cup. Ben had a putt to win, but it was one of those that couldn’t be raced at the hole due to the slope around the pin. A sensible lag putt from the captain and tap in par 3 then forced David to hole if he was to continue the play off. A firm rap up the slope saw the ball catch the cup and disappear below ground. Very sporting acknowledgement from Ben followed, with Ian watching on who also walked the play off holes. At the par five second there were no eagles or birdies to be found this time. David’s three wood approach shot finished just short of the green. Unfortunately, Ben caught his wedge shot approach a touch skinny and it finished just over the back of the green. However, he almost made a terrific up and down to save the five, but the par putt slipped by on the low side to hand David a sixth Club Championship title with a par 5.

Ben Plumridge, David Watson & Ian Roche
Club Championship number 6 for David (2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2020)