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To Sunday 14 April 2013 - 17:00
“Oh” sa easy as Amenechi secures Sussex Silverware
Historians and aficionados of the American Civil war would surely lay testimony to the truism that compels one to believe that the pivotal, bloody battle of Ox Hill fought in the open fields of Fairfax Virginia, in August of 1862 was irrefutably decided by the weather. “Thunderstorms and swirls of wind unlike anything I’ve ever seen” as described in transcripts attributed to a bewildered and wholly perplexed Union General John Pope who would in time oversee an unprecedented cessation in hostilities due to the adverse weather front.
On Saturday 13th April, the belligerent ACGA membership who gathered to do battle in the far more tranquil surroundings of the East Sussex National Golf Course could easily be forgiven for assuming some cruel twist of fate had somehow transported them back to the rain swept mayhem of 1862 Fairfax Virginia. The 2013 ACGA season officially opened with the keenly anticipated weekend away where the enigmatic Sussex backdrop provided opportunity to engage two of the most revered championship courses in the country, suitably designed by Robert E Cupp - one of Jack Nicklaus’s very own course architects.
Having already staged two European Opens, the choice and quality of the course paid tribute to the ambitions of a golfing society twenty years in the making and keen to spread its wings and soar to new heights of excellence and expectation. No more so outlined than in the opening address delivered by Jacqui Harbor, the ACGA’s premier lady captain, whose tenure happens to coincide with the society’s twentieth year of existence.
Flanked by a centred, well-balanced committee, the immediate future looks bright for an organisation forged by friendships and fuelled by an intense competitive desire and consummate camaraderie. It would appear the bar is set, bereft of compromise.
With digital precision, the harmonious shouts of “FORE-LEFT” which greeted the opening tee shot from Bernard Mayhe, also heralded the beginnings of a continual down pour which would effectively shape the destiny of the entire competition.
At the 1998 Masters, on his way to arguably his greatest achievement, Gary Player became the oldest player to win a major. Having played the first round amid hostile gusts of wind, in his press conference, Player was quick to point out how the inclement weather had effectively eliminated 80% of the field. “You can’t win one of these things on the first day, but by golly you can find yourself out of the game” he would later confess to a packed press conference….. How true.
Again we fast forward to Sussex East National as the aspirations and hopes of the field became as washed up as the fairways and greens. The numbers tell the story - “old-stager” Greg Worrell showed a degree of consistency…. by blobbing the first three holes of the front nine (as well as the first three holes of the back nine) on route to a unsatisfactory 19pt tally.
Golfers often ‘go to school’ on reading putts but Frank Skinner gave a school-like maths clinic….. by recording 6 fives and 5 sixes in a round would surely have resulted in lengthy detention. And so it continued, ‘boom boom’ Randy Plowright (a favourite for the tournament in the eyes of many) persisted with the numbers game….. a forgettable run of 3pts in eight holes saw his chances belly flop in to insignificance as the rain claimed another high profile victim. By mid afternoon conditions on the course bordered unplayable - but through such adversity are champions found.
Whilst the ‘big guns’ whimpered in the wet, the unheralded newcomer Osa ‘Jose’ Amenechi (incidentally introduced to the ACGA by Leon ‘Don Miguel’ Brown) belied the tsunami-like conditions to shoot a highly impressive 37pts…. on a day where the average score for the rest of the field was 25.4 (not to mention the two blobs and the three scores of 1 point on scorecard which entered the realms of golfing fantasy – Ahem!!!)
With the ever consistent George Grant (32pts) the irrepressible Danny McCleod (32pts) and the ACGA Capt Jacqui Harbor (31pts) making up the final group for Sunday, the chasing pack were all hoping for sun up from the gods and melt down from the uncompromising upstart come Sunday.
And so to Sunday…. and the golfing gods truly obliged as skies grey with menace were replaced by clouds of much more gentle persuasion, and a hint of sunlight to warm the spirits of a group of weather beaten competitors.
With the onset of sunshine and the promise of benign conditions, there was only one question being debated in hushed huddles and concealed corners scattered around the golf complex – Osa who?
Could the ACGA debutante hold his nerve and defy the form book? or will the occasion and a swashbuckling golf swing unravel like an unwanted coffee flavoured Quality Street?
Once again the ‘big guns’ misfired with alarming regularity - Frank Skinner once again failed to get his meter running by recording ten scores of one point to cap a thoroughly disappointing 22pts.
Mr Consistency Gregg Worrell continued his synergy with numbers by posting 10pts on the front nine and 10pts on the back nine. Leon Brown and Leo Faure took their family ties to unwanted territory by both recording five scores of one point and five blobs each – (you truly cannot choose your family).
But what of the leaders?
ACGA Captain Jacqui Harbor, well placed for a run at the title after day one, saw her chances fold (like an ironing board from Argos) during a round which registered one par and a back nine which returned 8pts. Donald McCleod, enjoying a continued run of good form - fared little better. Six points in the last six holes and five blobs was the summary of his woes.
Tiger Woods is a firm believer in doing exactly what it takes to win a golf tournament and whilst his main competitors faltered with alarming uniformity, Osa Amenechi sensed an opportunity to add to the rich history of first time ACGA winners.
Playing in his first tournament after becoming a fully fledged member, the new kid on the block recorded the 27pts (including five blobs) which would see him victorious. Despite scoring 4pts over nine holes of his round ‘Jose’ Amenechi summoned enough nous to navigate his way to a well deserved maiden victory.
Keen to be a part of the Mexican wave, the gregarious George Grant joined Jose on the winner’s podium by carding a respectable 28pts which catapulted him into second place in the final standings.
Totally anonymous from the first day, Richard Payne followed his steady if unspectacular 29pt tally on the first day with a steady if unspectacular 30pts on day two which proved enough to earn third place.
Mr Reliable (Lee Herbert), continued his impressive run of results by carding a well crafted 28pts which would see him 4th overall.
The tenacious Tyrone Carter carded the round of the day which saw him plough his way through the field to capture 5th place and yet more silverware.
As the darkness descended onto the saturated fairways of the East Sussex National the “if’s, buts and maybe’s” could still be heard in the corridors of the deserted club house.
What is without question - is that the depth, vibrancy and sheer unpredictability which makes the ACGA so appealing is alive and continues to lives on…….
And so to Farleigh…..
ACGA Social Secretary