Wednesday, October 05, 2011


An unmistakeable sense of déjà-vu enveloped the opening round of the Skins PGA Four-ball Championship at Forest Pines as three pairs shared pole position at its close today.
Yorkshire duo Adrian Ambler and Aran Wainwright and Ireland's Colin Clancy and Michael McDermott accounted for two of them - all of which evoked memories of the 2009 tournament.
Then Ambler and Wainwright set the pace with a blistering 13-under-par round of 60 to lead the field by four strokes after the first round but were denied the £5,000 first prize by an Irish-based pair and finished second.
That the trio was completed by Richards Sadler and O'Hanlon, a pair that did not take part two years ago, went some way towards tempering the feeling of yesterday once more.
All three carded nine-under-par rounds of 64 to lead the 60-strong field by one stroke going into the second.
Which, with a strong wind having an increasingly malevolent influence as the day unfolded, was more than Sadler and his partner anticipated.
The pair were in the second half of the draw and Sadler, the pro at Killiow Golf Club, Cornwall, said: "The wind was blowing a real hooley by the time we reached the third hole and was getting stronger and stronger."
Despite that Sadler negotiated the par five third in four and another quartet of birdies followed in the outward half.
"We were five-under for the first nine," added O'Hanlon of Lanhydrock Golf Club, Cornwall. "And we came very close to repeating that on the back nine - my birdie putt on the 18th stopped a fraction short of the hole. Still we would have settled for six-under at the start of the round, so we're happy."
In addition, to the near-miss at the last, the pair also rued a missed opportunity at the 15th, one of a quintet of par fives on the tree-lined Lincolnshire course.
All proved fertile sources of birdies for the co-leaders, not least Ambler and Wainwright, PGA pros at Moor Allerton and Mid Yorkshire Golf Clubs respectively.
Benefitting from an early start when the wind was it its most benign, a repeat of their pyrotechnics of two years ago looked in the offing.
"Adrian started off like a train," explained Wainwright. "He birdied the second and third and then had an eagle at the fifth. And he was fantastic from tee to green all the way round."
Wainwright, who birdied the seventh, eighth and tenth before Ambler followed suit at the 14th and 15th , also played his part as did their early start time.
"We set oursleves a target of nine-under, so we're happy," Wainwright added. "And with the wind getting stronger throughout our round, we benefitted from starting early."
Meanwhile, Clancy and McDermott, who were in the 12th group to tee off, overcame the worsening conditions and the fact that this was their first visit to Forest Pines.
McDermott, who is attached to Pure Golf, was particularly unfazed by either the weather or the occasion.
"He was in cracking form while I had to scramble a bit," said Clancy of Castle Golf Club, Dublin. "He had eagles on the tenth and 17th."
Meanwhile, hot on the heels of the leading trio, are another pair who benefitted from an early start - Crue Elliott (Sandy Lodge Golf Club, Middlesex) and Philip Trow (Cherry Lodge Golf Club, Kent).
The duo also found the par fives a happy hunting ground, recording an eagle at the second of them, the fifth, and birdies at the remainder. A bogey at the last, however, cost them the chance of joining the early leaders.
David Orr (East Renfrewshire) and Paul McKechnie (Braid Hills) are the leading Scots in joint 13th place on 69.
Paul Brookes (Pitreavie) and Jamie Stevenson (Braehead) are joint 22nd on 70, the same mark as Simon Payne (Cowglen) and Mark Loftus (Adam Hunter Golf).





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