Surrey’s Keith Waters survived a charge by two internationals to win the English Senior Men’s County Champion of Champions tournament by a stroke on the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa Golf Club.
Waters (image © Leaderboard Photography) secured his victory with a solid score of 73 for a 36-hole total of three-over – but his winning margin was tighter than he’d expected.
Defending champion Alan Mew, from Stoneham in Hampshire, and fellow international Stephen East, from Moortown in Yorkshire, both beat par with scores of one-under 70 and 69 respectively.
Mew moved into second place on four-over, while East came third on six-over as they warmed up for England’s challenge in next week’s Senior Home Internationals at Crowborough Beacon in Sussex.
But the trophy belonged to Waters (West Byfleet) and, although he’s won many times in a golfing career which included 16 years on the European Tour, this is a special success.
“This is more special than people probably realise because I played here (Woodhall Spa) as a kid. I tell all my friends in Surrey that this is one of the greatest inland courses in the world – they think I’m exaggerating, but it is superb.”
Waters, who is now the Chief Operating Officer on the European Tour, grew up in Lincolnshire. He’s a past county champion and played at Woodhall Spa in county championships and matches, as well as in the English amateur and the Brabazon.
He held a two stroke lead after yesterday’s first round 72 and played very solidly today – although the putts eluded him. “I was in complete control of my game and hit some beautiful irons, but I couldn’t hole a putt, I just couldn’t get it in the hole and I didn’t make a birdie all day.”
Despite that, he kept well ahead – until the closing stages. A look at the scoreboard on 15 told him he had a three-shot cushion and he deliberately played for a safe bogey five on the last, only to discover Alan Mew had birdied 16 and 17.
Mew hit every fairway except one today and, although he felt he could have holed more putts, he rolled in two goods ones for his late birdies.
“I’ve played well and I’ve been very pleased with my performance this week. It’s great to defend and not let myself down,” he said.
Stephen East shot the low score of the championship with his two-under 69, which included a back nine of three-under. He scored his only bogey of the round on the ninth – a long hole where he’d look for a birdie – but came straight back by stiffing his approach on the next and also picked up shots on the 13th and 15th.
“The course is beautiful,” he said. “I’ve never seen it so good.”
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