|The TT heads to Oxfordshire|
The penultimate heat of the 2011 Trilby Tour finds us in lovely Oxfordshire at the lovely Oxfordshire. Or, as most of the competitors are Lahndaners travelling up from ‘the smoke’ or Brummies drawn down from….erm…. ‘the city of Birmingham’, we are in either ‘laverley’ Oxfordshire or ‘luv-loy’ Oxfordshire - take yer pick.
What is not open to debate is the challenge of the course here. Undulating fairways, wispy grass rough, masses of wide bunkers and ball-hungry man-made lakes ensure that the seemingly gentle holes turn even the most confident players into gibbering (though well dressed) muppets by the time they hit the 3rd.
As with previous TT 2011 course Rockcliffe, bunkers have been turned into an art form at the Oxfordshire. There’s lots and they’re big, so big that a couple of them have wooden pontoons running across so players can traverse them without getting sand in their shoes. Before play, all the bunkers had been raked into picturesque swirly patterns, sadly they didn’t stay picturesque for long. From the clubhouse you can look across virtually the whole course and at some points in the morning the little puffs of sand rising up everywhere revealed exactly how many players were straying from the fairway.
Those that did stay on the grass found the fairways and rough a challenge but the greens a delight. The one on the 6th was particularly well manicured and players actually seemed to be deliberately missing the pin simply to allow them to spend more time on the on the smooth, lush surface. The shared bunkers near the greens on the 12th and 16th also saw a lot of business, with players occasionally playing out of the same bunker, at the same time but in completely different directions.
Another recurring theme of the course is fairways bending round the man made lakes. It’s the kind of course that rewards good play but plays havoc with bad, as the players that elected to drive over the water rather than go round soon found out. Many found that their hopes definitely let down by their ability and more than one ended up borrowing almost running out of spare balls as their stock plopped into the wet.
Between the bunkers and the water there were a few poor scores being racked up back at the leader board, where William Hunt held court and turned more than one finishing player into the court jester. In the end the scores were relatively good but that didn’t stop Mr Hunt tearing a strip off some of the more favoured players who came home well below their expected figure.
As with a lot of heats on this year’s tour the weather was changeable but thankfully the rain stayed away all day and the cool early evening saw the final 4 play off for a place in the final. You’ll have to wait till the day airs on Sky Sports to find out who came out on top but here’s a clue: he’s from London. Or Birmingham. Or he isn’t. Pretty rubbish clue, actually.