British Open 2014
Preston continues epic run
On a lovely Autumn weekend, 51 players from a number of European countries came to Hastings to play in the British Open.
After an early 5am start from the Sussex coast, Paul Preston was attempting to continue a run of winning prizes at every tournament he has entered - starting from the British Masters in April and continuing three tournaments later at the Splash Point Open. However, with 24 out of the top 32 GB players and some great players from the continent taking part, a Top 40 position was the aim for the weekend.
With the course open for practice, Preston took the opportunity to learn a bit more after a brief one hour practice in August. With the help of Sussex Wasps captain, Steve Lovell - Preston was happier with the course before the tournament started.
The tournament draw put Preston in the last group going out with Category One player, Chris Wood who defeated Preston twice at the British Matchplay Championships and Czech player, Michal Stach.
Having seen everyone else start, the three players went out and it helped Preston massively having Stach in the group as he uses a normal golf ball and putter around the course so some new lines were found and in the first round, Preston parred the first eight holes and aced the tricky ninth hole to go out in 17 (one under par). With holes 12 to 18 being easier targets for aces, a good round score was on the cards.
With further aces on the sunken 13th and the rocky 17th hole but a bogey on the dogleg left 10th gave Preston a tour record score of 34, his first sub par round.
Round Two saw a one shot increase as there were no aces on the homeward stretch but aces on the left lumpy 3rd and the 9th again coupled with a bogey on the watery table topped 12th meant a -3 total after two rounds.
Round Three and the first over par round of 37, bogeys on the tricky dogleg left 4th, the previously aceable 9th and the Skeletor 11th with aces on the 13th and 17th (as per Round 1) put Preston in the mix for his Category (Three), although helped with only have one other competitor in the Category (Marion Homer).
Round Four and another 37 ensued but it was certainly not looking like a 37 after a disastrous outward nine with bogeys on the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th for 22 shots. Something had to turn around, sadly another three on 11 meant an astonishing comeback had to happen. It did with aces on 13, 14 and 15 and another on 18 saved a poor score.
The final round of the opening day saw a return to good scoring as a 34 was carded with the only bogey on 9 and aces on the previously unlucky 15th and rocky 16th holes.
Three under for the end of Saturday was a better than expected result and put Preston in a good position ahead of the Sunday competition but already knowing that a Top 18 spot was well out of reach as there were some ludicrously low scoring taking place with a 25 from Michael Smith being the highlight.
The aim for Sunday for Preston was to win the Category Three prize being two shots ahead of Marion Homer. With the group draw, Preston was playing first so had to set a target for Marion to beat.
Round Six, the first on Sunday saw a 35 scored with the ever regular 13th and 17th providing the aces with hole 4 being a thorn in Preston's side with a third bogey from six attempts. However, Marion's score of 37 gave a four shot lead going into Round Seven.
Round Seven saw a weekend high of 38 scored with the first double bogey of the weekend at the skull laden 11th, the ball hitting the metal ramp and bouncing back to the tee. An easy putt was missed at 16 to provide another bogey but the ever reliable 13th was the only ace of round 7. A score of 38 was also scored by Marion so left a tantalising last round shootout between the two for the Category 3 prize.
The final round saw Preston become a bag of nerves with an awful round. Although you would never would have thought that with an ace on the opening hole. A bogey came on the 4th for the fourth time in eight attempts. Things got worse with a double-bogey on 8 and 12, a hole-in-one on 13 for the seventh time gave some light relief but a 39 was the final score and a long wait was to come.
Marion hit a par round of 36 which was just one short of the Category prize which Preston took with open arms knowing how lucky he had been from his poor performances in the Sunday rounds.
With the British Open attracting double points for the Order of Merit, a 37th place wasn't expecting to affect Preston's position too much and with a drop to 42nd after missing the Midlands Open, a rise of a couple of places was expected.
It was an unexpected surprise to find that Preston has broken into Category Two with a rise to position 30 and a possible rise again with four tournaments between now and the end of the season.
Photo - courtesy of Kent Minigolf Club
Average Hole Scores for Tournament
1.86 1.90 1.95 2.06 1.84 2.00 2.14 2.00 1.72 2.00 1.94 1.93 1.33 1.80 1.53 1.94 1.54 2.11
Average Round Score - 36.13
Aces - 19 (13.19%)
Pars - 108 (75.00%)
Bogeys - 14 (9.72%)
Double-Bogeys - 3 (2.08%)
Triple-Bogeys - 0 (0%)
British Ranking - 30
Season Ranking - 8