Barry Browning wins the Autumn Tour on his come back from injury
Two drop outs for health reasons reduced the field to a fabulous six that even made Micky Mann look slim! The tour started with a 6am meet at Gatwick airport for a beer and bacon roll at Jamie’s and with some in better condition from the night before than others. Most had a sleep on the flight out which was on time and was very efficient and quick.
On arrival the players went straight to Santana Golf Course for a practice round – with Barry the photographer having lunch followed by a lift from a course marshal to find the players on the sixth fairway!! All players looked in good shape and enjoyed a fantastic course with some good shots struck and putts sunk.
The players then found the hotel and having missed the restaurants opening hours walked in to the town for a beer in an Irish bar (nice staff) who pointed us to a restaurant that did some very nice tapas all served by a waiter who because of his deep gravelly voice could star as a Mexican bandit in the next great Spaghetti Western. An early night followed with breakfast planned for 7am followed by an 8am pick up.
The first round of the main competition took place at Lauro GC with an 8.50 tee off time. The course was 5,496 metres off the yellows and was in good conditions. The highlight being Marchant beaching his buggy and needing rescuing on the first. The results were as follows:-
A couple of refreshing pints followed before returning to the hotel. The players met late afternoon in a beach side bar for a light snack and a drink. The main entertainment being a large pod of dolphins feeding just a few hundred metres in front of the bar who were eventually scared off by Tips who took his shirt off and went out for a swim – some locals tried to push him back others threw harpoons but he made it back to land eventually safe and sound.
The evening saw the players go to the hotel buffet for a bite to eat – the really nice freshly cooked food we saw we were not allowed to have – instead it had to be left to go cold and sit around for a couple of hours before being eaten!!! Hence, to say we were not impressed with the quality of food – which was a real shame.
The second round of the main competition was held at El Chaparral GC which was a tough golf course that had been played recently by Lee Westwood who could only card a 77 on this par 72, 5,402 metre golf course. The 17th hole stroke index one being a very tough cookie with every shot needing to be played with precision!! Dave “Rodney” the course starter suggesting 25+ stableford points would be a very good score on this course. Our scores were as follows:-
The course was very nice but slightly spoilt by having to keep the golf carts to the paths and more often than not you needed to be a mountain goat to get down to play your ball – often with the wrong club and then back up a near vertical slope back to your buggy. *Marchants knees gave up the ghost with 6 holes to play preferring a hot bath and a massage from Stocks rather than risking further injury.
The evening saw us gather to watch the Liverpool v Manchester United game in the Irish bar and wished we had not bothered as the quality of the game was so poor. Nick was approached by a local for some English lessons and for his trouble has now learnt two new words!!
The final round of the main competition was held at the Calanova GC which again was 5,773 metres in length and another long and tight golf course where you had to hit the fairway every time or be prepared to play three off the tee.
The dream team of Stocker, Marchant and Bishop led the way with the buggy tyres needing to be slightly deflated for the Bishop & Marchant golf buggy. All three played pretty well despite, hearing, seeing and speaking no evil at times (well not the latter one). Bishop being coached by Marchant over the last 9 holes led the field as a consequence.
Browning and Tippet were within a shot at the top of the leader board after two days and were joined by Mann who was seven shots adrift of the two. Mann had decided an early charge might see him spook the leaders and have a chance of taking the main prize – on the first he was out of bounds to the right, the second and third he lost his ball to the right before stuffing up the fourth and had no points after four holes.
This left Browning and Tippett to fight it out “nip and tuck” at the top with Browning ahead by only 2 at the 15th. However, the 16th saw two drives split the blind fairway but mysteriously when we got to where we thought the balls should be only one could be found at it was Brownings ball who went on to make par and Tippett was suddenly 5 behind. The 17th & 18th saw the wheels fall off Tippetts game with Browning cool as a cucumber finishing off his degected opponent. The results on day 4 were as follows:-
The match was probably settled by the mystery of the lost ball on the 16th , maybe not – but an excellent tournament. The overall final combined result is set out below:-
Well done to Barry Browning for winning on his return from injury – beware of the injured golfer was said by many on the first day and they were correct!!. A big thank you goes to Andy Tippett & Tim Gorringe for organising the whole shooting match. Hopefully, next year we can get a few more players interested and select a slightly better hotel.
All the players arrived back in the UK very late Tuesday evening – safe and sound and look forward to the Spring Tour.