Youngster topples experienced rivals

Just a week shy of turning 16, Joel Bryant got an early birthday present after shooting the best round of the day at the Mount Gambier Golf Club on Saturday. As well as being a promising golfer, Bryant plays footy for South Gambier juniors and is also a member of the Lakers U18 basketball squad.

Despite not being a regular in Saturday competitions at the Attamurra layout, he topped the leaderboard with a +7 in the par format. He was two shots clear of Conor Ryan and it could easily have been more. The youngster, who played off a 26 handicap, started well with a plus on the first two holes, but gave one back on the 3rd.

That proved only a temporary setback as he added pluses on holes six, nine, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15 to move to +8 with three holes to play. Unfortunately, he dropped shots on the 16th and 17th, but managed to par the final hole for another plus to come in with the winning score.

“Chipping is usually the best part of my game, but my driver was working on Saturday so that helped,” Bryant, who started playing golf at age seven with his Dad, said. The result, which saw him lose three shots off his handicap, was good enough to win C Grade by five shots from Dennis Smith.

Ryan’s score of +5 saw him take the honours in B Grade by three shots from Michael Rookas, while Andrew Stark won A Grade on a countback from Hayden Schroder after they both finished on +4. Stark, who played off a handicap of five, was faultless through the first 14 holes.

Birdies on the second, eighth and 10th, combined with pars on the other 11 holes saw him move to +5 before dropped shots on 15 and 16 cost him the chance of going super low. He finished with two more pars which proved the difference as Schroder dropped a shot on the 18th to also finish on +4.

While Bryant could not remember when he last tasted victory in a Saturday competition, Thursday’s winner David Pike had no such difficulty. His 42 stableford points saw him finish three clear of Ken Whitehead and gave him his second win in the Thursday competition in just four weeks.

Playing off 17, Pike had 21 points on the front nine after shooting 42 off the stick. He was a model of consistency with six two-point holes and three-point pars on the 4th, 6th and 7th.

His only one-point hole of the round came on the difficult par-four 13th, but he rebounded strongly to par the final four holes and add another 21 points to his front nine. While consistency was the key to Pike’s win, runner-up Whitehead was left ruing the inconsistency between his front and back nines.

The nine-handicapper started poorly with double bogeys on the 2nd and 4th contributing to just 15 points on the outward nine. But like the temperature on the day he got hot on the inward nine with a superb 24 points.

He made up for a bogey on the 10th with a birdie on the par-five 11th, before finishing with seven straight pars for 36 off the stick. Kevin Cook was one point further back on 38 points after shooting 75 off the stick, while three handicapper Patrick O’Donnell also had 38 points but cost himself the chance of going sub-par with a pick up on the par-four third hole.

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