Neil expects a tight finish

Organiser of the Winter Order of Merit at Greetham Valley Golf Club, Neil Harris.'Photo: MSMP280113-010ow
Organiser of the Winter Order of Merit at Greetham Valley Golf Club, Neil Harris.'Photo: MSMP280113-010ow
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League organiser Neil Harris predicts a tight finish to the Winter Order of Merit which is due to resume at Greetham Valley this week.

Now in its third year, the league has thrown up a different winner in each round that has survived the weather this winter setting up an exciting final few months.

“It tends to be wide open until February,” said Neil. “Then it starts to take shape but the top five are usually very tight.”

Around 50 players have taken part this year with more than 75 percent of those players already bagging a top three finish.

But finishing in a top three spot is far from a surefire way to win the 24 week series.

The top three players each week receive handicap cuts which are specific to the contest and which can swiftly turn the leaderboard on its head. The winners face a two shot cut for the rest of the series, second players lose a single shot and the third-placed players loses 0.5.

Neil added: “The way we did it originally, you had the same people winning week in, week out but the handicaps give us a different winner each week.

“The secret is to finish fourth each week.

“People that have done that on a regular basis really creep up the table.”

Winner of the first series, Martin Broughton, was routinely fourth to stay in contention for the title without suffering significant handicap cuts early in the series.

Last year’s winner, Adam Clegg, similarly put on a late sprint to claim the title and Clegg is among the early frontrunners this winter.

“Adam and Steff Dutton will finish high up but there will be a few surprises too,” predicted Neil, who hopes a rally in the second half of the season will boost his chances.

“I’m not doing as well as last year. I’m languishing at about 16th but, as the others lose handicaps, who knows.”

He’s also about to throw a fresh twist into the remaining rounds by sending out players in groups based on their series positions.

“We’ll send them out in leaderboard order. It tends to add a psychological factor,” he said.

The next round is on Sunday with Ian Copley in the lead, Adam Clegg second, and George Grant close behind in third. Dave Copley is a mere point four behind in fourth, and Paul Jenkinson is fifth only point six behind him.

The series is already pencilled in for the 2013-14 winter and Harris may add a summer series in future.