World Crazy Golf Championships 2014
25th and 26th October - Crazy Golf, Hastings
More Points Than Prizes But With Immense Pride
On a overcast Saturday morning, the Crazy Golf at Hastings played host to the Crazy Golf World Championships 2014 where 62 players had entered to try and win the World crown.
Preston who had never played at the venue competitively before had managed to get a day off work to practice on the Wednesday immediately before the tournament and was able to rely on Sussex Wasps captain, Steve Lovell to help out with the best lines on each hole. This resulted in a worst score of 41 and a best of 33, even beating Steve twice across the six practice rounds played.
Confidence was high but with 30 of the Top 32 BMGA Order of Merit present and with some top talent from across the seas in Finland and the Czech Republic. The aim for Paul for the tournament was to finish in the Top 30 above his current BMGA Order of Merit ranking.
Practice began early on the Saturday morning and as Preston arrived, there was only one other player on the course but with the dampness of the course following heavy rain on the Friday, the early conditions may prove to be difficult for the players and as the forecast was dry, the course would always be drying out over the course of the day.
Paul was paired with the current British Number 2, Adam Kelly where they played a very one-sided match against each other at the British Matchplay Championships which Adam won comfortably.
Round 1 began with an ace and Preston was tempted to retire from the competition there and then as it doesn't get better than hitting an ace on the first hole. But the dangerous second hole was the first real test for the round. Following Adam is a great experience for any player as they should pick up some great guides for aiming and hitting the ball cleanly.
However, Preston decided to ignore this as he hit his tee shot so hard the ball goes up the ramp but it jumps the ramp border (1) and goes into the air, hits the wall at the side of the hole (2), rebounds back onto the hole and hits the hole left wall (3) behind the ramp to return about 18 inches from the hole - an absolute fluke of a shot that will go down in BMGA legend. The par was saved and any nerves that were present at the start were certainly gone after this piece of luck.
The remainder of Round 1 was fairly uneventful with four bogeys tempered with an ace on 17 but cancelled out with a bogey on the last to finish on 38 and a position of 35th after Round 1. Not a great start and some improvement needed to break into the Top 30.
Round 2 started well with an ace on Hole 3 followed by second bogey on Hole 5. But aces on the lengthy Hole 9 and on the tricky Hole 15 set up a good score. But consistency failed Preston as the ridiculously short Hole 16 claimed a bogey. A par finish on the last two holes gave Preston a 35 and some much needed Season Only points. But how was the leaderboard looking?
With 27 rounds under par, the average score was one tenth of a shot better than in the opening round. Preston had moved up from 35th to 25th so he was achieving his aim of finishing in the Top 30.
The third round began with a great start, -3 after six holes after aces at Hole 2, 4 and 6. Two of the shots were dropped on Hole 9 and 13 but an ace on the lumpy 14th was cancelled out by a second bogey of the day on Hole 15. Another consistent 35 but how was the rest of the field looking after Round 3?
Round 3 was the worst so far for the field with an average 38.65 and 35 rounds over par. This meant Preston moved up to 21st and four shots clear of 31st position but only three positions and one shot off the Top 18 and a seventh round.
The last round of Saturday, Round 4 and could a good round here put Preston in a good position going into Day 2.
Another good start to the Round with a second ace on Hole 1 and an ace on Hole 5 to be two under at the turn. Another ace was found on Hole 12 but again consistency proved lacking as a bogey was again found on Hole 15, three bogeys and one ace for the day. A tidy end to the round meant a day best of 34 was a great platform for Day Two as this gave Preston a day ending position of 16th but tied with five other players so surviving the cut was not guaranteed.
Hopefully, the result for Preston in the Tat Challenge was not an omen for the Sunday as £2 in resulted in naff all out. But the after crazy golf banter with members of the Midlands and Cambridgeshire Mini Golf clubs in the local Wetherspoons proved to be a great end to the day especially with our international friends, Pasi Aho and Nuno Cunha.
Day Two and the weather took a breezier turn and maybe scores will be higher than the 38.26 of the opening day. Preston was first on the course practising following an average night sleep at a local hotel.
With playing order now in tournament order, Preston was playing with Freddie Blackburn-Shaw and James Rutherford - two very experienced members on the BMGA tour on exactly the same score overnight. And in Round Five, the pressure took its toll on Preston as there were dropped shots on Hole 1, 3, 11 and 18 (where the ball went in the hole only for it to bounce out again) to finish on a tournament poor score of 40. This meant he was going to miss out of the cut as he was now 21st, three shots adrift.
The final scheduled round for everyone, Round six and a great start would have provided a brilliant platform to put pressure on other players around the top 18 but a bogey on Hole 8 with no aces was not looking good enough to progress. Holes 9 to 14 were all holed out as pars to leave Preston +1 with four holes remaining. An exit at Round 6 looked inevitable especially as Hole 15 was next where having hit three bogeys in five attempts was surely the writing on the wall.
Hole 15 arrived and the ball went past the hole hitting the wall on the left and somehow went in the hole. Hole 16, a hole that Preston had not aced all tournament despite it looking like the easiest hole on the course lay in wait. Unbelievably another ace arrived and it was onto Hole 17 and another ace was hit, a hat-trick of aces to be two under for the round. Surely it wasn't going to be enough to qualify for the final round, there were still some quality players to finish their rounds. But with Blackburn-Shaw hitting a 38 (to go with a Round 5, 34) and Rutherford a 35 (with an earlier 40) meant Preston has not been beaten by them and an outside chance of qualifying.
Players came in to the clubhouse to see their final scores. Scott Lancley, John McIver and James Rutherford were all on one over par with Preston and Blackburn-Shaw on level par. All rested on Mark Wood and John Moore in their final round and Wood finished on -1 and Moore on -2. This meant Preston and Blackburn-Shaw were in joint 17th place and the only player who could beat them and push them into a play-off was Jan Prokop Jr from the Czech Republic.
Jan was 6th overnight but a 40 in the opening round pushed him down eight places to 14th ahead of the final round. News was filtering through that he was not having his greatest round and it was confirmed when a 42 was carded that Preston had squeezed into the final round by one shot.
The final seventh round was six groups of three being scored professionally with a scorer and referee calling the scores for each hole but also it was even more Crazy Golf with the rules that all three balls were in play at the same time so balls can be hit out of the way if necessary.
Preston was paired with Blackburn-Shaw and Mark Wood for the last 18 and it was an amicable round with no dirty play. Preston hit a 37 (four bogeys and three aces) as did Blackburn-Shaw, Wood hit a 38 so all three players finished on the same score. With Chris Smith and John Moore having difficult final rounds of 41 and 39 respectively, this meant that the three players finished joint 14th.
Preston could not believe how good the weekend went for him considering a Top 30 position was the aim for the weekend. While there was no prize money winging its way to the Preston backpocket, the performance here will not only be remembered now but for the whole of 2015 as the Order of Merit points for this event will count towards next years score.
Looking at the statistics for each hole, Preston was the best player at Hole 2 as the only player with an under par performance with an average of 1.86 and tied at the top for Hole 14 with the World Champion, Chris Harding and a probable World Champion in the future, Will Donnelly. Preston also finished joint third in the Aces In A Row list with 3, one behind the joint leaders of Chris Harding and Keith Kellard.
Average Hole Scores for Tournament
1.94 1.99 2.10 1.40 2.20 2.26 1.63 2.22 1.86 1.42 2.16 2.20 1.93 1.98 2.14 1.80 2.02 2.00
Average Round Score - 36.14
Aces - 19 (15.08%)
Pars - 87 (69.05%)
Bogeys - 20 (15.87%)
Double-Bogeys - 0 (0%)
Triple-Bogeys - 0 (0%)
British Ranking - 31 (down 1)
Season Ranking - 6 (up 1)