Graham breezes to lead Merit order at Greetham Valley

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The first round of the winter order of merit got off to a good start on the Lakes course at Greetham Valley Golf Club on Saturday.

Players had to contend with a high wind and a few spots of rain but that is nothing to what they will have to endure once winter makes itself known.

Renowned wind player Graham Smith dropped only three shots on the front nine and improved by completing the back nine in one under par to finish on 40 points.

Graham, who played off six, said he always enjoyed playing in the wind as it adds an extra challenge.

He had two shots chopped from his handicap and will play off four next Sunday.

Playing partner Peter Bagshaw, who plays off nine, also had a great round and was only one shot further back on 39 points. Peter was docked one shot.

Another single figure handicapper Simon Bateman, off six, secured third place on countback and loses point five from his handicap.

He edged out 2013 champion Steve Anderson and Chris Wheatland, who both finished with 38 points.

Two former captains John Sparks and Bob Beverley shared sixth place.

They came in with 37 points, just one shot ahead of David Copley, Michael Fish, Gary Graham and Nick Cunnington.

Only time will tell if Graham can sustain the early lead, as the week one winner has never managed to secure the end-of-season trophy.

l The Order of Merit moves to Sunday next week, with many players returning from holidays to start their campaign in the 22-week series.

Organiser Neil Harris said he was pleased the event had grown from an initial coterie of 20 or so mates playing a few years ago, into a full club competition.

Two of the rounds will be played in conjunction with a medal competition in November and March.

Competitors will have the choice of adding their score to the order of merit, providing they sign up for it at the same time as they sign up for the medal and pay an extra pound to the usual £3 medal fee.

The good news is that if they do well in the medal, they won’t be cut in order of merit.

l Due to the wrong information being displayed on the ‘How did I do’ website, the wrong person was credited with winning the ladies’ nine hole Stableford last week. The actual winner was Christine Slattery.

l The ladies’ medal winners competition took place on Sunday on the Lakes course in rain and gusting winds, which really took its toll on the back nine.

Sophie Beardsall, playing off one, had a great start with five pars and two birdies and went on to win the competition and the lowest gross prize.

Liz Haughton, who seems to be in the top three almost every time she competes, was second and ladies’ captain in waiting Bev Dolman, who did such a good job with the mixed team during the year, took third place.