Short games skills puts smith in winning position

IT’S no secret that chipping and putting well can turn an average round of golf into a potential winner.

And that was the case again on Saturday for Damian Smith who took out the Par competition at the Mount Gambier Golf Club with an excellent +5.

Playing off a handicap of 14, Smith was lucky to escape with a half on the par-five 1st hole,  but he quickly hit his stride with pars on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th to move to +3.

Two of those pars came courtesy of chip and one putts, something Smith acknowledged had played a big part in his win.

“That part of my game was very good …

I only ended up having 25 putts for the round,” he said.

After bogeying the 5th for a half, he had another one-putt hole on the par-3 6th, getting up-and-down from the bunker for a par to remain at +3.

A regulation par on the 7th took his score to +4, and another chip-and-putt on the signature par 3 8th kept him on that number.

A bogey four on the 9th saw him make the turn at +4, and he wasted no time advancing to +5 with a regulation two putt on the difficult par three 10th.

 Bogeys on the 11th and 12th kept his score on that mark before he produced an incredible shot on the par-four 13th.

An errant drive ended up on the adjacent 14th fairway, but a fantastic three wood over trees to just short of the 13th green was followed by another chip-and-putt for a par to move to +6.

He dropped his first shot of the round on the 14th after finding bunker trouble, but a par on the 15th for a half, and yet another par from just off the front of the 16th green quickly got him back to +6.

A bogey on the 17th for a half set him up for the victory, although the easy par-four 18th again proved his nemesis.

“I should have made an easy par after driving down the middle, but I just can’t seem to hit a decent second shot on that hole,” he said.

Still, a +5 was good enough to finish on top of the leaderboard, one clear of Simon Tulak.

Playing off a 15 handicap, Tulak could count himself unlucky not to win thanks to the vagaries of the par round scoring system.

For example, a birdie on the first hole gave him a plus, but on a par would’ve given him the same result.

After ending the front nine on -1, not helped by double bogeys on the 3rd and 7th, he needed an extraordinary back nine to move into contention.

He made a good start with a par on the 10th to get back to square, but gave that straight back  with another double bogey at the par-five 11th.

There were  no more bad holes to come however, Tulak  playing the final seven holes in a superb one under par, and 37 off the stick.

The par scoring system got him again on the par-four 17th, a rare birdie giving him just a plus when a par would have achieved the same result.

With Smith and Tulak finishing first and second in B Grade, Patrick O’Donnell’s score of +4 was good enough to take top spot in A Grade, finishing two shots ahead of Archy Arch.

That quartet were the only players among the  101 starters to beat their handicaps, with Kim Sykes edging out Stephen Herbert on a countback in C grade after they both finished square.

The round  of the day was turned in by club pro John Martin who played off scratch and also finished square after shooting 16 pars, one birdie and a bogey.

Meanwhile a good day with the putter also helped Peter Ewer take out Thursday’s Stableford competition.

Playing off16, Ewer compiled 41 points, one clear of Barry Brook and David Boyce.

Ewer would be the first to admit his putter doesn’t always behave, even resorting to putting one-handed for an entire round recently to try and improve that part of his game.

But on Thursday he had no such issues, getting off to a flying start with a one-putt birdie for four points on the 1st.

Three-point pars on the 3rd, 5th, 8th and 9th helped give him an outstanding 23 points on the front nine.

His only blemish for the round was a triple bogey on the par-four 12th, but thanks to pars  on the 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th he had another 18 points to secure victory.

Brook, who also regularly struggles with the flat stick, started with a modest 18 points on the opening nine.

But he shot a fantastic 39 off the stick on the back to add 20 points to take second on a countback from Boyce

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