The 2017 edition of the Dixon Wilson Open started early on Friday 16 June 2017 with numbers slightly down on the previous year and sadly missing the 2016 winner, Andy Burder, and runner-up, Rob Palmer, who had battled hard for personal best rounds in the prior year event. The golfing talent on display this year, however, was possibly easier on the eye of an onlooker and certainly the eye of the greenkeeper. The return to Farleigh Fox was welcomed by most, and all those that had been before knew that keeping the ball straight would be the key to a successful round.
As has become tradition, the morning nine was used as a warm-up and also to set handicaps for the afternoon competition. The most notable morning round was that of Tim Harris, as he went round in an impressive four over and set himself a competitive afternoon handicap of eight. The other morning round that drew attention was that of Olly Jackson, who had been practising on the range with a coach and ball tracker for months in the lead-up; the six-shot improvement over nine holes clearly proved that his investment had paid dividends. Alex Steed and David Gough also showed promise for the afternoon.
For the main event and trophy, there were four previous holders on show, Tom West (2011), Tim Harris (2012), George Dawson (2014) and Will Hurst (2015), all looking for a second victory. Other notable contenders included Olly Jennings, Ben Grist, Tom Darby and Liv Watson. For a third year technology allowed the leaderboard to be streamed live to the players, back to the office and any wider audience that was interested. Stableford, the scoring system.
There were some particularly quick starters including Will Thompson who had three net birdies in three holes and George Dawson with a net eagle on the third. There were equally some very slow starters with the usual chatter from Sam Tasker-Grindley drying up as he picked up one point in the first six holes. In his first appearance in 5 years, rustiness also got the better of Mark Williams.
By the turn there were only four people in contention; in the penultimate group Will Thompson and Liv Waston and in the final group Tom Darby and George Dawson. The length of the day caught up with Will Thompson on the back nine and he fell away. An eight on the par five twelfth for George Dawson showed that in spite of his long-range hitting ability he was fallible. Tom Darby continued to apply the pressure striking the ball to within eighteen inches on the thirteenth and taking the closest to the pin with it. Liv continued her assault for the title with two or more points on all the holes from eleven to seventeen.
It was all coming nicely to a situation where a winner would be made on the par four eighteenth. With Liv having split the fairway with a lovely drive down eighteen and the two boys waiting on the tee the scores were Liv 39, Tom 38 and George 37. Liv got a tough bounce on her second into the green and ended up in the bunker, eventually coming away with a point and leaving a score of 40 to beat. Tom struggled to find his range on the final fairway taking three to get to the green leaving himself a twenty-five foot putt for the win. Ever the showman he stepped up and finished in style, holing the putt into the middle of the cup, snatching victory from Liv and taking an unassailable lead over George.
Congratulations go to Tom and all that played on a thoroughly enjoyable day – The 2018 instalment will have to put up a very good showing to outdo this edition.
Roll of honour
2017 – Tom Darby
2016 – Andy Burder
2015 – Will Hurst
2014 – George Dawson
2013 – Adam Tonge
2012 – Tim Harris
2011 – Tom West