John Moore wins British Championship
British Championships, Taunton, 8th July 2006
The vivaria of Vivary Park in Taunton were fish ponds, and it was in Vivary Park that the 2006 British Minigolf Championship took plaice. Enough of my efforts to combine historical interest and dreadful puns in the manner of three-time British Champion Ted Magiver; the rest of this report will be as bereft of such style as this tournament was of the snappy dresser himself. Previous winners who were on show were Tim Davies and Jon Angel. This pair shared the course record by the end of the event, each carding a round of 30, but there was to be a new name appearing on the trophy.
The course itself is in a great location, and is run by Tone Leisure. From their website I find they are a registered charity, seemingly responsible for many of the leisure facilities in Taunton. Of the 18 holes, only the 16th seems to rely excessively on luck to get an ace, and the surface is a bit slower than on many courses. It became clear from the practice days that there could be some very low scores once competition was under way. John Moore recorded a 29 in practice, but he seldom reproduces that form in the event proper.
The day of the competition brought together 33 competitors on a warm sunny day that occasionally threatened rain but never delivered it. Tim opted to sleep under a course-side tree up until start time following an overnight illness, and only managed a 36 on his first round. Self-inflicted? Sabotage? Will we ever know for sure?
Joining him on this score were defending champion Jon Angel, John Moore, and a delighted Marion Homer, who was leading the women's championship at this stage, two strokes ahead of Ruth Bullin. With top nine plus ties after round two due to contest the final, players scoring 36 or below in the first round were on course to achieve this. Damian Eite, Clint Purkiss and Sean Homer were just one or two strokes behind, and Brad Shepherd was surprisingly left with work to do on 39.
Five players ended round one below par; Steve Gow scored 35, Keith and Jam each recorded 34, Chris Harding performed as solidly as ever with 32, and a stunning first round of 31 for Rob Dodd gave him a surprise lead.
In round two some of the leading contenders succumbed to the pressure of heckling and applause from some local spectators who were following the action and cheering them on with invented names. However Captain Stu, or rather Tim, was unrattled as his 30 rocketed him to the top of the leaderboard and guaranteed him the British Senior Championship title. Keith maintained his form to share second place, while a wonderful 31 from Richard Penfound gave him a place in the lead group for the final round. Would he maintain that form and pick up a first tour win for Brighton?
Chris and John were next, providing a strong Midlands/North challenge, and they were joined for the final by Steve. A 39 for Rob meant he made the cut and, as the only novice in the final, assured him of a prize. Jon Angel on 71 was ready to make a charge in the final round. Ruth's 34 saw off Marion's challenge for the women's title and took her into the final. Completing the line-up was Jam, just making the cut after a disappointing 38, perhaps a consequence of concentrating too much on the shoe golf of late. It did ensure he beat his dad though. An improved 34 from Brad was not quite enough to sneak his way in.
With no juniors reaching the final, Taunton local Seve Kukielka won the junior title by 4 strokes from Rocky, and beat his parents and rapid-playing brother Leo in the process. The 16th hole had proven costly for Rocky with a 7 and a 5, compared to Seve's 4 and 3. Just four strokes behind Rocky, Matthew Harding took third place for the Midlands.
So to the final, where Stance quickly notched his record-equalling 30 to set a useful club-house lead, as the groups of three followed some distance behind. Chris put his challenge back on course with aces at 1 and 2, while Steve started strongly too. John picked up his first ace of the round at the seventh, before three in a row starting at the 11th put pressure on the others. After nervy twos at the 16th and 17th, John led Chris by 1 stroke. An ace at the last for Chris meant he finished on 100, and John joined him after a cautious tee shot for an easy two.
Meanwhile, back at the 14th, the leading group was no longer leading. At least not after Aceman dropped a shot at this hole. Incomplete notes due to his earlier incapacity proved costly here. By the sixteenth Tim was aware he needed five strokes for the last three holes to tie the lead. Was it this pressure that resulted in him taking a 3 at this tricky hole? Keith remained unaware that he needed one ace to tie the lead, as he closed out with three twos to join Jon in a play-off for third. The Midlands duo looked on relieved, knowing they were to battle it out for the title. Richard, while not maintaining the high standards he'd set himself earlier, still managed to ace the 16th and ended up in a brilliant 7th place overall.
So British Doubles Champions Kellard and Angel met in their play-off and, unlike in London, at least they knew one of them would get a prize this time. Jon went first. Following his tee shot he was unsettled by some tree-dwelling locals calling out encouragment from behind him, and ended up with a four. The pressure removed from Keith, he coolly aced the hole to finish third.
Another doubles pairing now stepped up to the tee, John winning the toss and electing to have Chris play first. Each holed out in two, and moved on to the second. An ace from John, with the ball creeping in the left hand side of the hole, proved sufficient to make him British Champion as Chris's shot just lacked the required pace.
And so to the presentation, where Bob, the course manager, presented the prizes and handshakes against a backdrop of Ruth and Bill holding up the BMGA banner. A very enjoyable tournament at a great venue, this was a welcome addition to the tour. Still nowhere near Newcastle though.
Words: John Moore
|Pos||Player||Round 1||Round 2||Final||TOTAL||Ave||Ranking Points|
|1||John Moore *||36||32||32||100||33.33||1000|
|3||Keith Kellard **||34||33||34||101||33.67||966.67|
* Jon Moore won play-off at second
** Keith Kellard won play-off at first extra hole
Course record: 30 - Jon Angel, Tim Davies
Ruth Bullin - British Women's Champion
Tim Davies - British Senior Champion
Rob Dodd - British Novice Champion
Seve Kukielka - British Junior Champion
Photos: Ace Man
Photos: Jon Angel
Photos: Bill Bullin
Click on Thumbnail to enlarge image
Many Thanks to the staff of Taunton Mini Golf especially Colin and Bob.
Previous results 2003 2004 2005
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