Hampshire’s Stuart Archibald hobbled to victory following a three-man play-off for the Logan Trophy after fearing he might have to quit the event with four holes to play.
The Tent Valley golfer suffered back spasms as the English Men’s Mid-Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship reached a dramatic climax at Liphook Golf Club earlier today. At the point he pulled up injured on the 14th fairway, Archibald was tied for the lead with Brokenhurst Manor’s Martin Young on +1 for the championship.
Mike Henson from Rockcliffe Hall then posted that total for 54 holes after a sparkling final round of 68. That left Young, John Kemp and Archibald out on the course to see if they match or better a tally of 214 (+1). Archibald gritted his teeth and got through the last four holes to tie Henson. Woburn ace Kemp needed a birdie at the last to reach +1 but could only manage a par. Young then had a six-foot birdie putt on 18 to win the event – only for it to slip by and confirm a three-man play-off between himself, Henson and Archibald.
Archibald was able to limp onto the first tee – where he faced a 208 yard shot to the green – and fired his approach to 20 feet. When both Henson and Young missed the target and failed to get up and down from greenside, Archibald holed a two-footer for par and a most unlikely victory.
With trophy in hand, the 38-year-old champion said: “It’s been a weird week. I had to pull out my club championships after 25 holes because of my back. I thought I could manage through this with 18 holes a day. Then, with four holes to play, I slipped and put my back out. I didn’t expect to be standing here with the trophy.
“Wearing a bit of black inspired me. I had a tip from my younger days that if you’re ever struggling to get through the golf ball – Gary Player was the best at it – just walk after the shot. That’s all I did after every shot just to try and get it on line. I actually hit some good shots coming in and scrapped my way in. On the 14th – my wedge shot – I barely made a swing and duffed it onto the green. My caddie Phil just said ‘let’s see if we can make it through’. Him pushing my trolley helped and I holed a 50-footer across the green when I didn’t bend to line it up. When we got to 17, I realised I had a chance.”
Archibald returned from the pro ranks two years ago and with wins on the Euro Pro Tour and experience at Challenge Tour level he had enough in the locker to grimace and get over the line. His rounds of 68, 74 and 72 followed by a par in the play-off allowed him to edge out Young – a winner of this event in 2006 – and Henson who finished tied for second spot last year at Thorpeness.
As well as the trophy, Archibald was also presented with a framed painting of Liphook’s stunning 18th hole by the host club. He added: “It’s always a treat to play here and playing a major golf tournament here recognised by England Golf and winning on behalf of my county and club means a lot to me and others.”
It was a case of ‘if only’ for so many of the 144 golfers who played this week, but no-one had more cause for regret than Hornsea’s Steve Uzzell. The former winner of the Brabazon Trophy opened with a round of 81 and followed that with a 68 and then a course record 66 to miss out on the play-off by a single shot.