Back on the greens

BACK IN ACTION: Bailey Letizia returned to the golf course after a recent break and promptly claimed the monthly medal.

A RECENT break from golf proved the winning formula for Mount Gambier Golf Club member Bailey Letizia.

The 22-year-old may have been playing his first round since early July, but that did not stop him taking out Saturday’s monthly medal with an excellent net 68.

Playing of an 11 handicap, Letizia was off to a solid start, with 40 off the stick on the opening nine, which included four bogeys and five pars.

Another two pars on the 10th and 11th holes to start the back nine had him in great shape.

Unfortunately the wheels nearly fell off when he dropped five shots on the next three holes thanks to double-bogeys on the 12th and 13th after poor chips, plus a three-putt bogey on the 14th.

But rather than get frustrated and despondent, he said he “just tried to stay positive”.

That paid off when he made a birdie on the par 5 15th after he took advantage of a good drive with an excellent three-wood to the edge of the green, having no trouble getting up-and-down.

That birdie was followed by another on the par 3 16th after hitting his tee shot to about eight feet.

Two more pars on the 17th and 18th holes gave him 39 off the stick on the inward nine for a total of 79 and a net 68.

That was two clear of runner-up Jeff Hodge, the fellow A-grader finishing with a net 70 after shooting 77 off the stick.

Third overall was 21-handicapper John Miles who also finished with a net 70, good enough to take out C Grade by a single shot from Rob McLellan.

The victor in B Grade was Matthew Bowering who shot a net 71 to beat Andrew Noble by two strokes.

While the conditions on Saturday gave no-one any excuse to play poorly, Thursday’s stableford competition was a totally different story.

Gale force winds made it extremely tough for everyone in the 98-strong field, veteran Rob McIntyre prevailing with 38 points.

A count-back was needed to determine second place, Jim Leane getting the nod over Craig Foster and David Boyce after the trio each returned 37 points.

To illustrate how challenging the conditions were, 38 points was the equal-lowest winning score in any Thursday competition this year.

“The wind doesn’t really bother me,” McIntyre said.

“I just don’t like playing in the rain.”

The 73-year-old had a great start to his round, picking up 20 points on the front nine after shooting 38 off the stick.

That was helped by a three-point par on the second hole and a three-point birdie on the par 4 fifth after hitting his approach shot to about six feet.

He continued his good form on the back nine, adding another 12 points after five more holes thanks in no small part to three-point pars on the 10th and 12th holes.

But with the finish line in sight, the 10-handicapper started leaking oil, adding just six points on the final four holes including a single point on the final hole after three-putting for a bogey from 10 feet.

“I definitely thought I’d blown it after that,” McIntyre said.

Luckily he did not, the veteran now setting his sights on the rare achievement of shooting his age.

“That’s the goal” he said.

“I’ve shot 75 a couple of times so hopefully I can do that.”

With Leane taking second place, Foster was left ruing a wipe on the fifth hole that cost him the chance of a win.

While Grant Harvey finished back in sixth place on 36 points, also left wondering what might have been after wiping both the sixth and 10th holes.