With an overnight minimum of 22 degrees in Melbourne (and maximum of 23 predicted) the scene was set for some calm consistent golf in the first round of this season’s final two week major, the Fred Kitson Spring Cup.
New member Charles Gibbs (putting in his third card) joined 13 competitors for what is renowned as the club’s most elegant looking trophy. The gossip from last week’s Mustard Jacket weekend in Cobram was doing the rounds before hit off. We will not mention how many putts of Stef shaved the hole and refused to drop, nor Chris J’s final 9 holes when he blew what should have been an unbeatable lead, nor Chrispy’s struggles on Sunday after perhaps having a few too many on Saturday night.
Josh obviously pulled up well from Cobram and hit the ground running with a plus on the first hole, a spectacular birdie on the 8th after hitting trees with his first two shots and then pitching his third straight into the hole. Turning square he had three plusses on the trot at 11, 12 and 13 and held his form to finish as co-leader at +3. Michael joined him on that score, holding his round together thanks to a better than usual day with those awkward short range putts in the 3-5 foot range.
Chrispy produced a solid days work for +1, second place on the leaderboard and as proclaimed in post round discussions, he has a cunning plan for his run to victory next week. His round finished with a flourish after “laying up” a fair way short of the 18th green and then hitting a stellar pitch to the top tier pin and making the putt for a plus.
SoS’s fortunes on 18 went in the other direction. He had a short putt for a plus that would have seen him finish at +2, but it slid by and then forgetting he had a stroke left for a half he picked up and recorded a loss. This was after a brilliant shot off the tee onto the green at the 17th for an easy two putt birdie. His square card was good enough for third place on his own and a spot in next week’s leading group.
Blighty, Raj and Prez Priems shared fourth on -2, only five behind the leaders and all showing form that suggests they could surprise the leaders next week. Raj’s highlights included a “double Priems” on the 8th where his second shot hit a tree and darted to the right heading for the Yarra, only to hit another tree and bounce back into the fairway. Blighty mixed his trademark massive long draws with the driver with a few less than stellar chip shots, but still looks very generously handicapped for a big run one day soon. Rob was very consistent tee to green with one notable exception – his third into the 9th was last heard hitting the clubhouse roof.
Andrew Noble and Brendan snuck into eqaul 5th place on -3. Andrew’s highlights included a birdie on the 1st, one of 10 birdies for the day. Brendan birdied the 14th after he spectacularly drove it through the green. He followed this with a somewhat less spectacular shot off the 15th tee. It went about 20-30 metres and was lost in the rough on the hill to the left. Funny game golf.
Andrew called a penalty on himself when he realised he had played the wrong ball. Same brand as his, so more than a touch unlucky, but he copped the penalty and moved on with good grace and a wry smile. Brendan apparently wasn’t smiling so much during his round. There was a suggestion that he had broken an Ivanhoe world record for the number of time saying a certain swear word (Harry do you keep a stat on that?).
Adam, Chris J, Bobby and Targe brought up the rear of the field and it is hoped at least one of those will cope with BBQ duty next week. A win from that far back is not totally out of the question (a bloke once won a British Open starting out from 10 shots behind on the last day) but more likely we will see one or more of the BBQ group surge into the double points on offer for our majors. So everybody still has something to play for next week, including Charles who will be out there for his first day with a club handicap. Like all new members gaining a handicap for the first time, the tip is that the Punters Club could do worse than put their money on Charles featuring in the points in coming weeks.
There’s also a jackpot pro-pin to play for on the fourth, although with the tree there not getting any smaller, the jackpot might last until Christmas. Chris J staked a claim for both ball nearest the pins on the 12th and 18th only to be knocked off by Michael.
Chris J’s round was also notable for 3 birdies, all of which would have been double plusses in a Grand Par round. Indeed Josh’s birdie on the 8th would have been a triple plus! Would Harry’s systems cope with a triple plus?
Speaking of Harry, a ripple went across the field as a few phones pinged with a last minute Harry email from the airport. He is clearly nervous about leaving this blog and the handicapping in the hands of his inexperienced assistant apprentice. The said apprentice is also nervous, but will try and keep the show afloat until Harry’s return in late November.
Results for Saturday, 21 Oct 2023
Leaderboard Round 1: 1st Michael Gourlay (+3) 1st Josh Hunt (+3) 2nd Chris Priems (+1) 3rd Stephen O’Sullivan (□) 4th Andrew Blight (-2) 4th Rajesh Mahto (-2) 4th Robert Priems (-2) 5th Brendon Mitchell (-3) 5th Andrew Noble (-3)
Seniors Leaderboard: 1st Michael Gourlay (+3) 2nd Chris Priems (+1) 3rd Andrew Blight (-2)
Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 4th Jackpot BallPin No 1 – 12th Michael Gourlay BallPin No 2 – 18th Michael Gourlay