HKGC Club Championship 2011
Staunton becomes the first player in a generation to win four Club Championships
Unusually for these championships the most anticipated and intriguing games were the semi-final matches in the senior division. All four top seeds had made it through, the leading qualifier Tim Orgill playing evergreen super-senior Terry Collins, and Max Wong, winner of the last three championships, playing Roderick Staunton, recently returned from England. Both were going for a fourth title over the New Course.
Those who thought that Collins would be so badly outgunned by Tim that he would end up being cannon fodder were proved wrong. Despite losing the first three holes, Collins' steady play allowed him to chip away at Orgill's lead until he was, in fact, one up with two
to play. Alas for Collins, a slight slip at the par-three seven teenth, coupled with an Orgill birdie at the last meant the latter had squeaked through to the final of a championship he has yet to win.
The match between Wong and Staunton was one of the most exciting of the last decade. The opening nine holes was a cagey affair, with the duo all square after Wong missed plenty of birdie opportunities. He did take the eleventh hole after a fine approach and then extended his lead at the thirteenth to go 2-up. The pair halved the next, a par-five, with Staunton holing a remarkable 18-footer to match Wong's easy birdie. The putt proved to be crucial, as Staunton then pitched to two-feet to win the fifteenth and then brought the match back to level after an uncharacteristic mistake by Wong at the sixteenth.
Staunton then produced one of the finest bunker shots that I've ever witnessed after missing the green at the seventeenth. 30 yards right of the putting surface, Staunton lofted an immaculate pitch to four feet, and when Wong failed to get up and down from a tricky lie to the left he went to the last hole 1-up. Staunton sealed the deal with a wonderful 30-foot birdie putt after it looked like Wong might take the game to extra holes.
The final was a well-played but much less dramatic affair, played at a good pace and in an excellent spirit. Staunton, round in 69 in the morning, edged 2-up on Orgill, who never fails to impress with his power and immaculate
swing. The afternoon round brought much more of the same, with Staunton edging a number of holes to eventually triumph 4&3. Orgill had a number of chances to fight back, but his short game needed to be a little sharper to cope with an opponent of Staunton's calibre. In winning Staunton becomes the first player in a generation to win four Club Championships, the last being Dr. Cam Gribben in 1989.
In the Junior Championship for players holding a handicap of 10 or over, two young men, Ben Rhys and Sherman Lee, met in the final. Rhys' fine round in the morning took him to 5-up at lunch. Rhys was still 4-up when the match was sensationally ended after Lee received a call from the hospital to say that his wife had gone into labour. We are therefore in the happy position of being able to congratulate both contestants, albeit for somewhat different achievements!
Written by Dr. Brian Choa
Photography by Charles McLaughlin
Click here to see the published article.
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