The Championship started on Saturday with 115 golfers taking to the course in some very tough conditions.
The early starters made the most of the favourable morning conditions with some impressive scoring; defending champion David Porter shot an impressive 70, dropping only one shot all round. Leonardo Ruggieri followed up with a score of 71, an eagle two on the 13th hole was a highlight in a very good round of golf.
One of the most impressive rounds of the day belonged to Elliot Ebert, who raced to a 4 under par total after six holes, a few further drop shots and birdies meant he remained 4 under par through the 14th, although three further bogeys gave him a total of 71, a very impressive round which saw his handicap cut down to 5.5.
A few of the usual suspects were lurking close behind, Nick Tull, Chris Kerr, Peter Davies and Paul Hazell all posted 4 over totals of 76, and an very impressive round from John Farndell of 75 meant he had secured the runner up in the net competition behind Elliot Ebert.
The conditions got considerably worse through the day, but it has to be said The Park Course was in fantastic condition providing a tough but fair test for all golfers.
The start sheet for round two was in reverse order of round one, gross scores. The early groups went out enjoying the calmer conditions and by the time the leaders went out the wind was gusting, with The Downs Course at its toughest.
The leaders all had a steady start and by the time they had reached the back nine it was turning into a two man shoot-out between David Porter and Leonardo Ruggieri. A couple of birdies and dropped shots from either player meant that Porter was leading by two shots with four holes to play. Three steady pars from each of them and the situation remained the same on the 18th tee.
Ruggieri went for the aggressive approach and bombed his driver well down the hole, whilst Porter played conservatively and took a hybrid off the tee laying up short of the bunkers. This is where the drama really unfolded with Porter pulling his second shot into the thick rough left of the green and Ruggieri pushing his short approach into the bunker right of the green. Porter found his ball although such was the severity of the lie he took an unplayable drop and then pitched from the rough onto the right hand side of the green for his fourth. Ruggieri had a tough shot in the bunker and gave himself a 10ft putt for a par. Porter missed his putt and tapped in for his double bogey six.
At this stage there were 30 or so members surrounding the 18th green watching the action and they were going nowhere fast as Leonardo sunk his putt and took the Championship back down the first hole in a sudden death play-off.
Both men had a total score of 144 across the two days, a level par total which was very impressive in the tough conditions.
Meanwhile, another good round from John Farndell was enough to secure the net prize, with scores of net 66 and 71, congratulations John!
The play-off was swiftly underway with both men finding the green on the first, Porter having a 35ft putt which he putted up to around six feet leaving a testing putt for par. Ruggieri had a putt from the right hand side of the green from around 20ft and cosied it up to around two feet and tapped in for his par.
The pressure was then all on Porter to hole his putt and take it to the second play-off hole however, his putt caught the left lip and run just past the hole, crowning Leonardo Ruggieri the 2017 Club Champion.
After his win, Ruggieri said “It feels great to win, it feels really good, I've played in this four times now and I finally get my hands on it, it's great!
“I was two over through nine thinking I need to make some birdies through the back nine to catch up. I was just patient enough and it came.”
Best Gross Score – Nick Tull (76)
Best Nett Score – Tim Clayton (69)
Best Gross Score – Will Court (76)
Best Nett Score – Mel Henry (72)
36 Hole Men’s Club Championshi
1st – John Farndell (66 + 71 = -7)
2nd – Elliot Ebert (64 + 73 = -7)
1st – Leonardo Ruggieri (71 + 73 = LEVEL)
2nd – David Porter (70 + 74 = LEVEL)