1 July 2011
Latham leads with 67 in sunny Suffolk
Three former champions made a determined effort to grab the headlines on the opening day of the Logan Trophy at Ipswich. But they were upstaged by the challenging trio of Richard Latham, Danny Curtis and Neill Williams.
Latham, the Director of Operations at Woodhall Spa, returned a superb four-under-par 67 to lead by a shot from Curtis and Williams, who both surrendered shots over the closing stretch at Purdis Heath.
Just two years off of becoming a senior, Latham was thrilled with his score, which came after a poor run of results and on a course he hadn’t seen for over a decade.
“It’s a long time since I played this well,” he said. “But I hit the ball straight and just made a score. This is a great course in superb condition but I haven’t been here since I played in the Champion Club tournament in 1995.”
He had seven birdies in his 67 and might have threatened the course record but for a couple of three putts and a bogey after a poor drive at the 11th.
Curtis, a former Kent champion but his county’s Mid Amateur title-holder, looked to be drawing alongside Latham. But he bogeyed the long 17th to return 68.
The 47-year-old plus-one handicapper from Knole Park is playing in his second Logan and said: “It would be nice to take over from my Kent colleague as champion.”
Williams was heading for pole position himself as he got to five under through ten holes and had an eight-foot birdie putt on the 12th to add to that. But he missed, while a three-putt at the 14th followed by a further bogey at 17 dropped him back alongside Curtis.
“It was a disappoint finish,” said the 38 year old surveyor from Walton Heath.
The former champions who made their presence felt were Steve Crosby, Barry Downing and Nigel Chesters, who all finished on one-under-par 70.
Crosby, joint winner at Prince’s in 2002, was not certain to play as he is having treatment for a sore back. But a few pain-killers did the trick.
“It’s hurting,” said the publican from Gorleston. “It doesn’t hurt when I hit the ball but it is painful when I walk. I’m pleased with my score, particularly after being two over after four holes.” He departed to have some ice packs on the offending area.
Downing, the 2000 champion at Ponteland, got to two-under through 11 but couldn’t improve, while Chesters, joint winner in 2005 at Delamere Forest, was two over par with four to play then went birdie-birdie-eagle only to bogey the last for his 70.
There are nine players on 70 but defending champion Danny Holmes, an early starter, posted one-over-par 72 to lie five shots off the lead and in equal 23rd place.
The day also had a hole-in-one. It came at the 177-yard sixth hole when Gary Higgins from Moor Park sank his five-iron tee shot for his first ‘ace’ in competition.
It arrived as a belated birthday present as he celebrated his 53rd birthday yesterday.