Close finale to the South West season



More than half the players in the select field remained in contention for the Race to Woodbury Park Tournament in association with Johnnie Walker after a quality first day at the regional headquarters Woodbury Park at East Devon.

No fewer than 28 players equalled or bettered par in the climax to a seven-event Order of Merit season which concludes today before tomorrow’s prestigious end-of-season pro-am.

In-form Richard O’Hanlon (The Point at Polzeath), fresh from winning at Exeter on Sunday, shared the lead with former Bournemouth Festival winner Graham Howell (Ferndown Forest) on five-under-par 67.

They were pressed by Kevin Harper (Honiton) who stood on the 18th tee on six-under. But he dumped his tee-shot into the water guarding the spectacular 168-yard finishing hole and made a double bogey after a seven-birdie round.

O’Hanlon also suffered on the sixth hole where he drove out of bounds but recovered to drop just one shot. It marred an otherwise flawless round that started with a birdie and finished with five birdies over the last 10 holes.

Howell made no errors. He started with two birdies and added three more over the closing holes. Sherborne’s Alistair Tresidder was another player without blemish with 18 pars.  But it was a day in the sunshine to make birdies.

Gary Emerson (Playgolf Bournemouth), who is warming up to make his European Senior Tour debut, finished in dramatic style one shot off to lead alongside Harper and Paul Hendriksen (Dinnaton). He followed an eagle at the ninth with birdies at 10, 11, 14 and 16.

Hendriksen, who can still reach the Titleist Play-Offs if he can add a second victory to his first OOM win at Bournemouth, started with a birdie and added others at 13, 15 and 18.

Race to Woodbury Park leader St Pierre’s Liam Bond, after sensationally leading the Wales Open at halfway, is again in contention to claim his fourth OOM title this summer. He lurks in sixth spot, two shots off the lead, alongside Lee Thompson (Dudsbury), Ross Whitelock (St Mellion), Cennydd Mills (Pyle and Kenfig) and Chris Gill (Newquay).

Then two players who started in second and third in the OOM Stuart Little (Minchinhampton), 70, shared 11th and Richard Dinsdale (Parc Golf Academy), 72, was 22nd. Fourth man Sion Bebb (Vale Hotel) left himself plenty to do after he dropped shots at the 15th and 18th to lie 29th on 73.

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