You could feel the excitement in the air at Maxstoke Park as the first Jamega Pro Golf Tour Tournament got underway promptly at 8 am.
Scoring, on the first day, was very strong with some 31 players scoring par or better over this par 71 layout that was playing longer than normal due to the very wet winter the course had to endure.
At the top of the heap after the days play drew to a close was Mannings Heath’s Tom Hayward with a fine 5 under par 66 and for Hayward it was just reward for all his hard work and the fact that he had continued to play competitive golf throughout the winter.
James Ruebotham, Luke Johnson and Sweden’s Otto Bonning lay a shot behind Hayward and no less than 6 more players were a shot further back on 3 under the card, so the second day would be no walk in the park for Hayward.
The final day proved to be full of drama right up to the end, with at one stage Hayward looking comfortable, leading on 7 under par after 27 holes from Mark Laskey on 5 under and by 4 from Ruebotham, in the group ahead, on 3 under.
Hayward maintained that lead with pars at the next 2 holes until Ruebotham birdied the twelfth to get within 3 shots of Hayward.
Then Hayward bogeys Thirteen, then Fourteen and suddenly Ruebotham birdies the fifteenth to draw level, then Hayward responded and made a birdie 2 on the Sixteenth to take a one-shot lead.
While all this was going on Laskey saw his chance evaporate with a triple bogey on the seventeenth to drop back to one under par and out of the race.
Hayward then proceeds to double bogey the Seventeenth to gift Ruebotham, who made bogey, a level playing field with one hole to play.
Ruebotham makes a telling birdie at the last, for a 5 under par total and then waits for Hayward to finish in the final group.
Unfortunately, Hayward failed to make the necessary birdie to tie Ruebotham and force a play-off, eventually making an expensive bogey to slip back into a tie for second place.
Maxstoke Park pulled out all the stops to make the course playable after one of the wettest winters in recent times and our deserved thanks go out to all the green staff who made it possible to play the tournament.