Lawrence Dodd turns the tables on Robert Pritchard at Thorpeness
- Credit: Archant
Strong winds and squally showers made for difficult conditions for the rearranged final stages of the Suffolk PGA Match Play Championship at Thorpeness. Robert Pritchard (Cretingham) and Lawrence Dodd (Bury Golf Range), first and second in the qualifying stroke play, met in the final.
Dodd turned the tables on Pritchard with a 4 and 3 victory. He never looked back after taking the lead with a chip-in birdie at the fourth hole.
Although Pritchard was dormie five down, he won the par-five 15th with a defiant birdie but a half at the next was not good enough to stave off defeat.
Dodd, who made numerous appearances for England as amateur and played in both the European Tour and Challenge Tour, looked solid apart from the occasional wayward drive. In the semi-final he was too good for Chris Smith (Fynn Valley) winning 4 and 3.
In the other semi-final Andrew Robinson (Southwold) recovered from being four down against Pritchard to draw level with four to play. Pritchard regained the lead at the 15th, Robinson levelled at the 16th but went one down again at the 17th.
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Both players were in trouble off the tee at the last. Robinson had to take a drop from a bush on the right. Pritchard was in long wet grass on the left. PGA secretary and referee Terry Broome must have been keeping an eye on his watch as a search party set to work. The ball was found in time and Pritchard found the green with his approach, which was all he needed to do.
The first two rounds, completed the previous week, produced surprises. Patrick Spraggs, now attached to Woodbridge, lost his first round match on the final hole to Ben Kerr of West Suffolk Golf Centre. It was a high quality contest with Kerr protecting a narrow lead in the latter stages. Kerr produced three sand saves on each of the final three holes to keep his one-hole advantage. On the 18th his second shot was in the rough and he did well to find the deep bunker just short of the green to the right.
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The other first round tie between Peter Latimer of Felixstowe Ferry, a former Scottish amateur international, and Brad Wilkins of Ipswich Golf Centre went to the fourth extra hole with both players producing golf of a high standard.
Frank Hill, the host professional, who has played in the PGA Super Seniors for some years, was two up early on against Dodd. They were all square after the seventh. Then Dodd produced a string of birdies to surge ahead. He chipped in at the 15th to close out victory.
Daniel Skriabin of Ufford Park made a good start against Robinson who was watched by his former mentor Ian MacPherson from his Felixstowe Ferry days. Robinson’s accuracy off the tee improved and he won on the 17th green.
Richard Beadles from Royal Worlington faced Keith Preston of Aldeburgh, two coaches who have looked after Cambridge University in recent years. Despite problems with his putter Beadles won 2 and 1.
Rob Vine, a recently appointed assistant at Ufford Park after working in Spain, lost to Pritchard but came across as a welcome newcomer to the county. It was his first visit to Thorpeness and he was impressed.
Smith, a former Suffolk PGA champion, was too consistent for Rookery Park assistant Ed Garrard while Neil Mitchell (Bury Golf Range) was six up after seven against Phil Westley (Hintlesham) who may have been tired with a new baby in his household.
In the second round there were two very close matches and two that were one-sided. Latimer was seemingly in control when three-up against Dodd, but the former England amateur international knocked in a string of birdies in the second nine to win on the last green.
It was an epic tussle between Pritchard and Kerr. Pritchard lost the 17th after a wayward tee shot into gorse on the right to be all square on the last. Then it was Kerr’s turn to miss the fairway on the left. His ball was in long grass close to bramble roots but he was granted a free drop. He was still in the rough but played a splendid approach shot to the green.
Pritchard’s drive was a long way down the fairway. His second was six feet from the pin and he sunk his birdie putt to prevent the match from going to extra holes. Kerr secured his par but it was not good enough. Robinson established control of his match against Beadles midway through his round and Smith, who needed to play only 26 holes all day, beat Mitchell, thus avenging a defeat in the semi-final of last year’s Town and Country Cars Cup.