History repeats for Griffiths

HOT ROUND: Mike Griffiths was not about to let the rain stop him shooting a fantastic net 66 to win May’s monthly medal at Attamurra on Saturday. Picture submitted.

IT was a case of history repeating when Mike Griffiths edged out Jeff Olafsen to claim Saturday’s monthly medal at the Mount Gambier Golf Club.

Playing off a 15 handicap, and in difficult cold and wet conditions, the 77-year-old Griffiths was an incredible two-over par after his first 10 holes.

While he dropped seven shots in the final eight holes thanks largely to double-bogeys on the 11th and 18th, he still finished with a remarkable net 66 to beat Olafsen by a single shot.

It was just the second time Griffiths had played to a single-figure handicap in the past 16 months. The last time was in December last year when co-incidentally the player he beat by a single point in a Thursday stableford competition was Olafsen.

Griffiths, plagued by poor putting in recent years, has improved that part of his game thanks to a combination of lessons from club professional John Martin and plenty of practice.

It paid off on Saturday.

After two-putting the first four greens to be three-over early, he reeled off lengthy par-savers on the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth holes to shoot a 39 on the front nine.

A beautiful five wood on the 10th tee to about five feet saw his incredible run of one-putt greens continue, the birdie two dropping his score to just two over, putting him in an almost unbeatable position considering the conditions.

His worst drive of the day came on the 11th tee, pulling his drive left into the trees and eventually finishing with a double-bogey seven.

Griffiths quickly composed himself with a par 4 on the 12th hole, again one-putting to leave his playing partners in a state of disbelief at his work on the greens.

By the time he got to the 18th green he was eight shots under his handicap, with the monthly medal safely in his keeping … barring a disaster.

His drive found the middle of the fairway, but his worst iron shot of the day saw the ball scuttle into the left bunker.

Suddenly facing a potential drama, he managed to get out in one, chip onto the green and two-putt for a double-bogey, a disappointing finish but still good enough to claim the medal.

“I haven’t been playing that well recently so it was nice to put a good round together,” Griffiths said.

Coming in earlier in the day with a net 67, Olafsen must have thought he had a good chance of taking top honours.

The seven-handicapper was philosophical about the result, happy enough with what was just his third round of playing to a single-figure handicap in the past 15 months.

It was also good enough for him to take out the top prize in A Grade, finishing two shots clear of Jim Leane who signed for a net 69.

Griffiths’ great round saw him finish on top in B Grade, three clear of the evergreen Peter Buckingham who has been in a run of hot form in recent weeks.

They were the only four players in the 91-strong field to finish under their handicaps.

The C Graders found the going tough, Dennis Smith finishing on top with a net 73, one ahead of Max Tollner.

The going was even harder last Thursday with extremely cold weather and rain combining to decimate the field.

At the end of the day just two players shot under their handicaps, Scott Whicker leading the way with 38 stableford points, one ahead of Bryan Hunt.

Playing off a 15 handicap, Whicker wiped the second hole but still managed to score 18 points on the front nine thanks largely to three-point pars on the first and ninth holes.

He added another 20 on the back, the bulk of those coming thanks to three-point pars on the 10th, 14th, 16th and 17th holes.

Hunt cost himself a shot at winning with just 16 points on the front nine, a superb 39 off the stick on the back and 21 points not quite enough to reel in Whicker.

Meanwhile, the next Jens Hotel Short Course event will be played this Sunday.