Monday, 5 July 2010
“Things like this don’t happen to people like me,” was the reaction of Danny Holmes after he proved a surprise, yet deserved winner of the English Mid Amateur Championship for the Logan Trophy at a blustery Sherwood Forest.
Holmes (picture © Tom Ward), a 45 year old London taxi driver from Kent, fired a closing 73 for 219, nine over par, for a one shot winning margin over Mark Wharton and two clear of Brazilian-born Frenchman Rodrigo Lacerda Soares.
On a brutal day with a tough wind and bouncy fairways, Holmes kept a cool head when many others were losing theirs in the conditions to join an illustrious list of the over-35 champions.
“I just can’t believe this,” said Holmes. “It’s unbelievable for this to happen to me at 45. It’s my first time in the Logan Trophy and this is probably the best course I’ve ever played because you have to play every shot round here. But it was so tough today. It’s probably the worst windy conditions I’ve experienced but I drove the ball well and I never missed a putt inside five feet all week.”
What made Holmes’ success all the more remarkable is that he arrived with a new set of clubs and he was playing with them for the first time in competition.
Starting the day three shots off the lead, Holmes began with a bogey and was two over after four holes. But a run of four successive birdies from the fifth saw him out in 34 and he only dropped five shots over the demanding back nine to post nine under which no one managed to match.
A reinstated amateur after two years as a professional, Holmes recently lost in the semi-finals of the Kent Championship and was a county player for a number of years after only taking up golf aged 21.
“I didn’t play any sport because I didn’t have the time,” he added. “But now I play golf five days a week because I get the time off after working nights driving in London. I don’t practice because we don’t have a practice ground at Langley Park but I spend about two hours working on my putting which paid off this week.”
Wharton, who lost a playoff for the European Mid Amateur title a couple of weeks ago in France, was second again but one blemish put paid to his chances. “I has a triple at the 12th which cost me,” he said after signing for 74.
Lacerda Soares, the French Mid Amateur Champion, had the chance to overtake Holmes but he bogeyed the last two holes for 77 to take third spot on 221.
The rest of the field suffered in the wind which made it a pleasant day for spectators but an endurance test for the players. Sherwood Forest was at its brutal best and spared no one especially over the back nine, which is a challenge in calmer times.
Defending champion John Longcake from Cumbria came within a whisker of a fourth title when he got to six over with five to play. But he bogeyed every hole from the 14th and finished with a double in a 75 for 222. “I just don’t do that sort of thing,” he lamented.
Overnight leaders Andrew Wiltshire and Jamie Miller in the last game out, also found it tough, signing for 81 and 82 respectively.
But at the end of the day there were just two winners, the unyielding wind and Danny Holmes, who will regale his fellow London cab drivers for weeks at being crowned national champion.
English Golf Union Media Release