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Offley Stopsley Cricket Club Golf Day
THE OFFLEY & STOPSLEY MASTERS 2006 - Stockwood Park, 14 Oct 2006
SCRATCH MY ARSE
Former county golfer Mark Tattersall capitalised on a serious misjudgment by the Handicap Committee to romp to what can only have been a worthless, hollow victory in the Second Annual Offley Open.
Boosted by the gift of six strokes after the Committee were deceived by the grandiose claims of Gareth Mathewson (the South African claimed to be the grandson of Gary Player and a scratch player to boot) Tattersall, a longtime member of South Beds Golf Club and veteran of numerous competitions, stormed round Stockwood Park en route to 33 points in the Stableford competition.
The event had a distinctly international flavour this year as players from South Africa (Mathewson), New Zealand (Dan Jordan), Australia (Martin Bigmore), Italy (Jon Cerasale), Scotland (Richie Barker), the Emerald Isle (Wayne Cutts and Colin Keeley) joined three Englishmen (Tattersall, Gary Davison and Steve Bexfield). Pluto was not represented with Matthew Freeman otherwise engaged.
Despite taking advantage of a ludicrously high handicap figure a true sportsman would have insisted on receiving no more than two shots its only fair to report that Tattersall produced a fine round, recording eight pars and a birdie as he bitch-slapped Stockwood into submission. However, after benefiting from Mathewsons misplaced confidence, Tattersall also cravenly reduced the chances of an upset when he assured the Handicap Committee that his lifelong chum Davison was as good a golfer as he was. Judging by the fact that Davison needed 17 more strokes to navigate the course and wound up with 15 fewer points it would appear that he either had a distinctly off day or that Tattersall was being slightly economical with the truth. Its a wonder he gets to sleep at night.
Bigmore unleashed the thunder from down under as the Australian stormed to a second place finish after racking up 28 points. He might have been able to lay justifiable claim to having been the moral victor in his final appearance in the tournament had he not revealed on the first tee that he had played the previous weekend and shot a personal best. Needless to say the Handicap Committee were not aware of that information when they furnished him with an 18-shot handicap. (It should perhaps be noted that as one half of the Handicap Committee ruled on the shot allocations having consumed three pints of Stella Artois and nothing else, he was probably not aware of a great deal.)
Cerasale, nattily attired in a very shiny blue nylon shirt that marked him out as a Kevin par excellence, produced a solid round to finish with 26 points, good enough for third place. It marked a welcome return to form by Offleys Italian Stallion who suffered greatly in the inaugural event after being matched in the same group as Freeman and was accordingly dragged down to the lowest of levels.
Kiwi sensation Jordan overcame a rocky start (8 at the first, 10 at the second) to storm into a share of fourth spot with 24 points. Jordan picked up 16 points on the back nine, reeling off consecutive pars on 15 and 16 to make a mockery of Keeleys theory that he would prove to be a sporting one trick pony. Barker made a less than spectacular attempt at defending the crown he won with such a glorious performance in 2005. He struggled off the tee all day, unleashing a 30-yard effort on the first and failing to clear the ladies tee on the ninth, before rallying down the stretch.
Despite having chances to move up the leader board, the Irishmen failed to make a significant impact on proceedings. Cutts did not display the same touch around the greens of fellow Irishmen Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington and was fortunate to finish as high as sixth. One extraordinary incident occurred on the 16th when he missed a putt but demanded to have the shot wiped off the score on the grounds that he had expected it to be conceded. Not the sort of thing you might expect at St Andrews or Augusta but in the desire to avoid a repeat of his shameful antics on the cricket pitch against Lilley, his playing partners allowed him to doctor his scorecard accordingly.
Keeley, runner up in 2005, had the chance to go one better this time round after a strong front nine. However, he blew up down the stretch, producing three eights during a dismal five-hole stretch that yielded a single point and blew his challenge out of the water and knocked him down into seventh spot. A glorious approach shot to the 18th served to illustrate what might have been but was not.
Bexfield failed to find inspiration from the three lions logo emblazoned on his golf ball and instead produced the type of performance recently associated with the England football team. A pathetic effort going out meant that even a solid back nine was not enough to salvage his prospects. Bexfield also suffered the embarrassment of looking like a complete divot in front of the watching gallery on the 18th. Faced with an eminently straightforward pitch to the green, Bexfield was struck down by nerves and managed to knock the ball three foot to his left behind a tree. His subsequent shot went three foot to the right as he wound up in eighth spot, one ahead of Davison.
Mathewson brought up the rear. After projecting himself a man who might once have played Ernie Els off the course, Mathewson was always likely to struggle to live up to expectations. His efforts on the opening hole almost braining an unfortunate youth on the pitch and putt with a wayward drive suggested he was in for a long day. Playing off a handicap of scratch (my arse) and hampered by using hired clubs, Mathewson was unable to transform some useful iron play into points as he displayed the touch of a drunken butcher about the green. In his defence he hit the ball hard and high and showed some genuine talent but the inescapable reality is that he toiled round the course, amassing a dismal 13 points and failing to score on half of the holes.
So to Tattersall the spoils no matter how dubiously won and to the others the satisfaction of taking part in the prestigious event that has already established its place at the heart of Offley tradition.
Content contributed by Richie Barker