SUE MORSE cracked the ‘code’ to become only the third lady to lift the Examiner Overseas Golf Challenge, held this year at the stunning La Cala complex on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
The 13-handicapper, who plays at the Woodhall Hills club in Pudsey, went into the third and final round of the Challenge in joint third place, five points behind leader Robin Hanson – also a member at Woodhall.
But when all around her were getting ‘twitchy’ or just simply trying too hard, it was the slightly-built Sue who kept her head and remained rock-solid over the closing couple of holes to beat Hanson by two points, with Meltham’s Chris Holmes back in third spot.
It was yet another tremendous climax to the annual competition, now in its 15th year and, just like 12 months ago, the title could have gone in one of several directions.
There were just two points separating the leading four contenders in the final two fourballs after Morse parred the 15th, to join Hanson on 92, while a nett birdie for reigning champion Tommy Ward, from Longley Park, left him on 90 alongside Holmes and kept alive his chances of retaining the silver salver for a second year.
The delightfully picturesque par three 16th, with highly elevated tee and guarded by a greenside lake and fountain to the right, looked like being the pivotal hole on the Campo America course, particularly when the two leaders both failed to register a point, while Holmes hit the ‘dance floor’ with his tee-shot and sank a brilliant 10-footer for a three-point birdie, to put him into the lead on 93.
And with Ward having picked up a par, it left a three-way tie for second spot, and now just a solitary point covered the top four.
However, Ward’s challenge ended at the front of the 17th with a couple of fluffed chips, while Holmes managed just one point after a wayward second, and was joined at the top by the two Woodhall members, who both gained solid pars.
And so it was down to the final hole, a demanding downhill par five – 491ms for the men – with Holmes (playing off five) the only one of the quartet not to get a shot on handicap.
Hanson drove into the edge of the rough and could only hack out a few yards, while Holmes, realising he almost certainly needed a birdie to be in with a shout, tried to repeat a wonder shot he pulled off on the ninth, where he fired a five wood well over 200 yards across a reservoir onto the green at another par five hole and then sank a putt for a nett eagle and four points. But this time it wasn’t to be and he ended with nil point.
And that left Mrs M right in the driving seat!
A solid down-the-middle drive followed by an equally solid second left her with a shot onto the green for three, and with two putts and a stroke in hand, it was three points and game, set and match to the lady, who earlier in the year, had also won organiser Paul Hanson’s Bradford-area golf holiday tournament.
Held over three different courses at the La Cala complex (to paraphrase a well-known advertising campaign, these are not JUST golf courses!), Branshaw’s Brian Wilson and Elland’s Dave Law were the early frontrunners after each carding 33 points at the spectacular, and extremely testing Europa course on the first day of the Challenge.
Meanwhile, Meltham’s Tilly Prior, who was to finish as the tournament’s leading lady (the winner not being eligible for both prizes) brought in 32 points alongside Hanson and Morse, while Val Lawrence, wife of Halifax, Huddersfield Union secretary John, came home with a very respectable 30 points.
A tremendous supporter of the Examiner Golf Holiday, Hanson, who always seems to be there or thereabouts, was pipped for the free holiday this year after losing in the final of the Examiner Matchplay tournament in September to Cleckheaton’s Andy Mear (who finished seventh overall), and the Woodhall man made his bid for glory in the second round at the slightly easier Campo Asia course, where he collected 35 points to give himself a three-point cushion going into the final round.
Ward, too, was well in the hunt with a 33-point tally, but the day’s honours really belonged to his Longley Park clubmate Tim Dyson, off 15, who scorched round the Asia course with 39 points (the highest individual total of the week) which included nine nett birdies, to put him into contention for the final day.
But like the rest, he found himself trailing the consistently accurate Morse, who made best use of the occasional generous ladies’ tee.
“Of course it was nice to win the competition, but as much as that, it was lovely to play such wonderful courses, and in the company of so many really nice people,” admitted Sue.
“I never gave it a thought about what anyone else was doing in the final round, and just concentrated on my own game and picking up as many points as I could.”
And that certainly paid dividends as she reaped 21 points in the outward half of the final round, spurred on by husband and playing partner John (who also doubled up as one of the party’s two mini-bus drivers) and who are also two stalwart supporters of the Examiner Challenge.
Her success for the ladies matches that of the two previous champions, Elaine Woolerton, from Elland, who won in 1994 at Vilamoura, when the Challenge was a medal tournament, and 10 years later Huddersfield’s Melody Ludi, whose total of 91 points earned her the title in Palma Nova, Majorca.
Sue also became the second player from the Woodhall Hills club to win the Examiner tournament, following in the footsteps of clubmate Brian Verity in 2003.