Bristol man Martin extends county’s dominance of Gold Medal tournament into another year
FOR the second successive year, the Fuller’s London Pride Gold Medal winner hails from Gloucestershire thanks to some splendid golf from Martin Neal.
The 46-year-old from Bristol posted an outstanding 39 Stableford points in the second round at Woodhall Spa for a two-round tally of 66, off a handicap of 16. That was one better than Philip Allen from Dorset and two more than John Hennessy from Surrey.
Neal, who began the day in joint 29th place after an opening 27 points, couldn’t believe he’d won. “I’m dumbfounded,” he said. “After yesterday’s 27 points, to come in with 39 is incredible.
“Because the wind was stronger today, I went out to keep the ball low and play sensibly. I also holed a few putts, managed to keep out of the heather and only went in a few bunkers.”
Paul, who had his wife Mandy as caddie, was out in the middle of the field and finished a couple of hours before the final group. Even after he’d posted his score he was convinced someone would overtake him.
“Someone will come in with a better score,” he insisted - but it didn’t happen.
Many tried, especially Allen, who added 33 to his first round 32 to finish a point behind. The 45-year-old from the Wareham club - who, like Neal, was making his first visit to Woodhall Spa - was delighted to finish second.
“I feel like I’ve been beaten up by the course but it is a real test of golf,” said the two-handicapper.
It was an ill wind that did nobody any good. Gusting up to 22mph, it severely tested the field, a fact reflected in the scoring.
If the first round was difficult, the second proved even tougher as the wind gathered in strength and proved hard to handle.
Irishman Hennessy from Walton-on-Thames - off two at the Pyrford club - went round in four-over-par for his 34 points. He, though, should feel at home in the wind having been brought up on a links course in Cork.
“I always hit the ball low so I’m used to these conditions,” he said. “I also managed to get up-and-down from three bunkers, which is good around here,” added the 51-year-old financial advisor.
Arguably the shot of the day was produced by Keith Featherstone from the Isle of Man. The 16-handicapper eagled the 322-yard par-4 17th by holing his second shot with a pitching wedge for five points. “You’ve got to have one every year, haven’t you?” he said.
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