Putting master Griffin tops chart

Atotal of just nine putts on the back nine holes in any golf competition is always going to put you well in the running.

And so it did for Darren Griffin in Saturday’s stableford competition at the Mount Gambier Golf Club.

The 14-handicapper, who was playing only his third round since the start of June due to a busy work schedule, signed for 41 points, two ahead of his nearest rivals.

“It was crazy. Anything within six-to-eight feet of the hole on the back nine just went in,” he said.

“That happens once every blue moon.”

It may not even be that often, Griffin admitting he could not remember the last win he had at the club.

And while his putter caught fire on the back nine, that was not quite the case on the front nine.

Four pars on the first five holes had him off to a great start with 13 points, but three-putts on both the 6th and 7th holes quickly brought him back to the field.

He ended the front nine with 19 points, but a one-putt par on the 10th added three more points, before he rolled in a 10-footer for birdie on the par-four 12th for four more.

Griffin said he continued to drive well for the rest of the round, although his irons were not quite on song.

That meant he was short of most greens in regulation, needing a good shot to the flag … more often than not with his putter.

“If I’m six feet or so off the green I always putt on rather than playing a chip,” he said.

“I hate chipping.”

Griffin’s 41 points gave him a three-shot buffer in B Grade, although runner-up Damian Smith had a case to feel very unlucky.

Playing off 13, Smith notched up 23 points on the front nine after a superb 38 off the stick.

Unfortunately he wiped the 10th and 15th to add just 15 more on the back.

Meanwhile Tony Revill and Adrian Ballantyne needed a countback to decide the winner in A Grade, Revill getting the nod after they each scored 39 points.

Co-incidentally the pair also finished first and second in August’s monthly medal round, Ballantyne also having to settle for second on that occasion.

The C Grade winner on Saturday was Josh Hough who scored 37 points to beat John Gee by one.

Gee, who was relegated to third place on a countback in last Thursday’s competition after scoring 41 points, cruelled his chances by wiping three holes on the front nine and finishing with just 12 points.

He turned that around on the back, however, posting 24 points to fall agonisingly short.

While Griffin could not remember his last win, Thursday’s winner had no such problem.

Nic Clayton took the honours on a countback with 41 points, posting his second victory in successive weeks, and third in just nine weeks.

And it was a case of history repeating, with Wayne Davison finishing second behind Clayton on the past two Thursdays.

While he was “pretty happy” to post his lowest score of 73 off the stick at the Attamurra layout, Clayton could quite easily have matched or even beaten par had his putter been a little more co-operative.

He made birdies on the 1st and 11th (both par-fives), after missing eagle putts from inside 10 feet on both holes.

He also three-putted for bogey on the 9th from about 12 feet, and missed a four-footer for par on the par-four 13th.

He made up for those with a birdie on the 3rd hole, helping him notch 19 points on the front nine.

But the hole that proved the difference between winning and losing for the six-handicapper was the par-five 15th.

A solid drive followed by a sensational three-wood to inside three feet from about 180m finally brought an eagle and a crucial four points.

He then parred the final three holes to add seven more points for 22 on the inward nine, good enough to win on a countback from Davison who had 20 points on the back nine and Gee who had just 18.

“I went for months there where I could not score more than 30 points,” Clayton said.

“I only played to my handicap twice in the 20 rounds before that first win in August.

“I do not know what has suddenly changed to go from that to winning twice in a row, although I have tried to slow down my backswing a bit so maybe that’s it.”

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