A great last round of 68 saw Branden Grace finish 9th in the SA Open at the Serengeti Golf Club.
A great last round of 68 saw Branden Grace finish 9th in the SA Open at the Serengeti Golf Club.
Southport golfer Lee Slattery welcomes new arrivals on European Tour from his home town
Nov 3 2011 by Richard Williamson, Southport Visiter
IF there is one thing keeping European Tour winner Lee Slattery on his toes, then it is the next generation of young players emerging to challenge for the top titles.
Especially when two of them are from his home town of Southport.
Both Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Baldwin have made the step up from the Challenge Tour for 2012 and Bankia Madrid Masters champion Slattery knows he must keep working hard to keep them and their peers at bay.
This year saw both Fleetwood and Baldwin claim their maiden Challenge Tour wins, which left Slattery joking: “I was the number three player in Southport so I had to do something about that!”
But he has no intention of underestimating the size of the challenge from the new kids on the tee.
It took former England international and Walker Cup player Tom Lewis just three events as a professional to follow Slattery into the winner’s enclosure in Portugal while the 33-year-old was in his 183rd appearance when he enjoyed his breakthrough victory.
However Slattery is refusing to look over his shoulder, preferring instead to concentrate on building on his maiden success.
“My progress has been steady,” he says. “From winning on the EuroPro Tour, through the Challenge Tour and now being a winner on the main Tour. I have been learning as I go.
“I don’t see 33 as being a bad age to win my first event. Perhaps if I had been in my late 40s I might have wondered whether it was going to be my only win, but I still have the chance to achieve something in the game. I am a similar age to Luke Donald, who is in the best form of his life, so feel I am just getting started.
“There are a lot of good young players coming through, but the fact that I know about life on Tour and have played many of the courses before will hopefully give me an advantage. However they have one big thing going for them – they play without fear. They do not see trouble anywhere – just smash it and find it.”
Slattery is a fellow clubmate of Fleetwood at Formby Hall and expects him to make an immediate impact.
“If I was a betting man I would be lumping some money on him to do something special,” he said. “Tommy was one of the top amateurs in the world when he turned professional and has already turned in a fantastic performance to win the EuroPro Tour event at Formby Hall and the Kazhikstan Open on the Challenge Tour.
“So a lot will be expected of him when he steps up to the main Tour, but I think he has the game to deliver.
“Matthew has taken a little bit longer to get to the European Tour, but will be hoping to use that experience to his advantage.
“The courses are set up much tougher, with narrow fairways and tough pin positions, to offset the advantages that the modern clubs give players in terms of distance off the tee and iron control.”
And if their paths cross on the practice range at Formby Hall, what advice would Lee offer young Tommy on how to approach his rookie year on Tour?
“I would tell him not to change anything!,” he says. “Keep on doing the same things that have served him so well so far. He has a raw talent, but is one of the best iron players I have seen.
“It will be great to see the three Southport lads out on Tour next year.”
England’s Matthew Baldwin captured his debut Challenge Tour title after overcoming Frenchman Julien Guerrier in a tense play-off at the Fred Olsen Challenge de España.
The 25 year old – who hails from Southport, the same town as current Rankings leader Tommy Fleetwood – kept his cool in the searing heat of the Canary Islands to see off Guerrier with a par at the third extra hole, after both players had finished on 21 under par at Tecina Golf, in La Gomera.
Baldwin’s victory secured him a maiden campaign on The European Tour next season after the €24,000 winner’s cheque catapulted him to seventh place in the Challenge Tour Rankings.
Baldwin had started the day one shot behind Lloyd Kennedy, but soon overtook his compatriot with birdies at the third, seventh and ninth holes to turn in 33. His only bogey of the day, at the long par three 14th hole, briefly checked his momentum. But he rallied with a birdie at the 17th hole, and sunk a ten footer for par on the last to sign for a round of 68 and join Guerrier on 21 under par.
Both men made steady pars at the first two play-off holes, but after Guerrier had flown the green with his approach shot on the third extra hole and lipped out with his par putt, Baldwin was left with two putts from 15 feet to secure his maiden victory.
He said: “This feels great, I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s been a tough day, but I’m delighted with how it’s finished. I started holing some really good putts at the beginning of my round, then they stopped dropping and I thought I might have missed my chance. But I holed a great putt for birdie on the 17th green, and another great one for par on the 18th to get me into the play-off.
“The play-off was obviously fairly nerve-wracking, but I’m just so pleased I managed to hold my nerve and come through it. I’m not sure if I’m more excited about the winning the tournament, or getting my European Tour card for next season. I can’t wait to get out there now.”
Guerrier was pleased to have shot the joint lowest round of the day, a flawless 65, but disappointed to have missed out on the chance of securing his debut win.
The Frenchman, who climbed to 36th in the Challenge Tour Rankings, said: “At the beginning of the round I was short of confidence, but after I made some birdies my confidence started to grow again. I also holed a great putt for par on the 14th hole, which was very important for my momentum.
“Last week in Toulouse I spoke with Jean Van de Velde about how you can win a tournament in the last six holes, and even though I didn’t manage to win in the end, I was still very pleased with how I played down the stretch.
“I’m upset with a really short putt I missed in my second round, because that made all the difference in the end. But this result has still given me a lot of confidence, and hopefully I can use it to get back onto The European Tour now.”
Kennedy (70), Belgium’s Pierre Relecom (67) and Italian Alessandro Tadini (68) all finished in a share of third place on 20 under par.
Well done to 50+ keen club player A.E. from Cheshire who has managed to reduce his handicap from 22 to 19 in just two months of working on his mental game. More importantly, he is now really enjoying his golf again! He had a few holes on his golf course where he would always have a disaster. He would ‘look forward’ to these problem holes which meant he wasn’t fully focused on the shot in front of him. Once we reversed this pattern and improved his golf specific focus, the enjoyment returned and the scoring soon started to significantly improve!
Englishman Matthew Baldwin gave further credence to the power of positive thought when he moved into the lead at the halfway stage of the Golf Open Grand Toulouse on the European Challenge Tour.
The 25 year old from Southport carded a superb second round 63 at Golf de Toulouse-Seilh in south west France for a 12 under par total of 130 and a two shot lead over first round pacesetter Christophe Brazillier of France, who posted a 70 for 132, and Sweden’s Robin Wingardh who notched a 67 for the same total.
Currently 29th on the Challenge Tour Rankings and therefore within touching distance of the top 20 who will gain playing privileges on The 2012 European Tour at the end of the season, Baldwin revealed he is using every possible means to make the step up, including trying to harness the mental side of the game.
For most of this year, the Englishman has been working with sports psychologist Lee Crombleholme and admitted he is seeing a positive effect, as illustrated by four top 25 finishes in his last four outings on the Challenge Tour.
“I only actually see Lee about three or four times a year but I call him most tournament days,” said Baldwin, who carded four birdies in each half in a flawless second round showing, including birdie twos at each of the three par threes on the inward half of the Seilh venue.
“All the lads out here on Tour speak about all aspects of the game and while everyone probably knows how you should think out on the golf course, sometimes in the heat of competition you can forget. The calls I make to Lee hopefully help me remember.”
Leading the pursuit of Baldwin was another man heavily involved in the mental side of the game, Robin Wingardh, who turned professional in June after successfully completing a degree in sports psychology at the University of Tennessee.
Eaton’s Dale Marmion shot rounds of 66 – 67 – 68 at the EuroPro event at Bovey Castle to finish 2nd by 3 shots. Only a stunning final round of 63 by Chris Hanson stopped Dale from winning his first event of the year. Dale didn’t put a foot wrong on the final day and should be pleased with the outcome!
Normally when you are 2 shots off the lead going into a final round and you shoot the course record (64) you’d expect to win. However, Jamie Moul also played great in the final round (65) of the Challenge Tours Acaya Open in Italy. Branden couldn’t have done much more, but all credit to Jamie. It just goes to show that you cannot control what others do, you only have control over yourself!
Another solid performance from Cheshire’s Paul Grannell at the EuroPro event at Wychwood Park, Cheshire. Rounds of 68 – 72 – 68 saw Paul finish in joint 2nd place…..we played!
Royal Lytham and St Anne’s Henry Tomlinson showed his metal by winning the Faldo Series qualifyer at West Lancs GC in a sudden death play-off with Adam Andrews. Henry was 5 shots back after the 1st round, but a solid round of 69 saw him tied at the top.
Henry’s play-off win sees him earn a place at the Faldo Series Finals at Lough Erne in September. This win was all the sweeter as Henry has struggled with injury during the early months of the year but he has been using the mental conditioning audios whilst being injured to build confidence and prepare for success.
Paul Grannell graduated from the EuroPro Qualifying School with honours as he shot 69, 70, 68 to win by a shot. Paul finished birdie-birdie to win which justified all of the hard work he has been putting in on his mental game, as well as other areas of his golf.
3 other Winning Golf Mind clients were playing in the school and all 3 managed to gain their playing privilages for 2011. Tom Boys, Lee Harper and Sean Mcdonagh all breezed through to set-up an exciting year ahead. Well done team!!