In the normally quiet and serene Surrey Stockbroker belt yesterday, 128 players turned out for the annual Sunningdale Foursomes that under normal circumstances would signal the start of Spring and the 2001 UK golf season.
However, the only reference to ‘Spring’ would be of the plethora of Callaway ERC drivers in the players bags as a wicked snowstorm whipped through the venerable Old and New Courses at Ridgemount Road.
Conditions were nigh on impossible to play in with visibility reaching all of 100-yards on some occasions and some of Europe’s top professionals had to endure a severe climate change from Dubai and Qatar to the arctic conditions of Surrey yesterday.
Roger Chapman found the best side of the draw as he and Sunningdale Head professional Keith Maxwell cruised to an early morning 2&1 victory over Rob Sallis and Rob Macey.
The new neighbours didn’t have much trouble from the youngsters and are hotly tipped for the top in this, the 60th staging of the Foursomes.
The Evian Tour’s Trish Johnson, recovering from a long term elbow injury, started her 2001 campaign with fellow Arsenal supporter Jamie Spence as they finished 2-up. Both players donned the Gunners bobble hats to start and finish in the worst of the blizzards, having teed off last on the New Course in the morning.
And for other top European Tour stars, the news was good too. Bradley Dredge and David Park flew the Welsh flag high as they swept to a convincing victory over Clarke and Franks by 6&5.
Paul McGinley showed his current form and local knowledge as he and close friend Steve Flanagan, Captain of St Georges Hill comfortably won.
Gordon Sherry (remember him?) and Russell Thornton could not get past the first round as they fell to the wily pair of Scott Godfrey and Mark Arrowsmith at the 20th hole.
But the most unlikly win of the day was from Mike McLean and James Marshall in their epic match against Russel Hurd and Lee Jones.
McClean had to play the third shot from the fringe of the 18th green on the New Course as his opponents were sitting comfortably with a birdie putt. But the wily ex-Tour player ended the battle there and then with a 50-foot tram-liner across the green for a winning eagle three.
With the weather forecasted to be worse than Tuesday, the Club secretary Stewart Zuill has made contingency plans should the weather turn once more for the worse. A medal round could be incorporated to whittle down the field. But hopes are high that the event will not be snowed off for the second time in its revered history, as it was in 1975 when play was abandoned on the last day.
FIRST ROUND RESULTS
R Beadles & O Davies bt F Hill & J Hill 1up;
C Lipscombe & S Little bt S East & J Miller at 19th;
G Ralph & D Bragg bt N Soto & S Tootell 6&4;
P Davis & A George bt D Hawkins & G Cant 5&4;
G Potter & K Kelsall bt P Barham & D Wood 2up;
D Heard & R Blaxill bt M Landsborough & R Darlington 4&3;
M James & C Stewart bt M Hamilton & J Ritchie 1up;
T Andersen & G Evans bt R Fisher & K Baker 7&5;
S Nightingale & J Doherty bt G Crickmay & S Osbourne 4&2;
L Harpin & N Rowlands bt J Livesley & G Bothwell 2&1;
L Nicholson & B Brewerton bt J Nash & D Craik 5&4;
B Mitchell & K Grice bt S Moir & E Wilson 1up;
T Crawley & M Latham bt M Hughes & M Hooper 3&2;
A Robertson & W Pike bt P Delmas & G D'Hollander 4&2;
M Peet & R Peet bt L Atkinson & H Wadsworth 3&2;
D March & W Dicks bt G McQuitty & S Buckley 4&3;
R Caldwell & C Caldwell bt I Golding & R Dickman 3&1;
E Behcet & P Jones bt B McColl & S Shields 2up;
R Bolton & S Campbell bt W Bladon & W Nicolson 1up;
R Rea & M Booker bt D Boxall & J Smith 4&3;
B Downing & M Higginbottom bt T Charnley & D Charlton 3&2;
A Fells & M Smith bt B Parker & S Crooks 3&2;
D Jones & S Watson bt S Vinnicombe & L Scarbrow 3&2;
T Markwick & L Roper bt M Palmer & R McFarlane 2&1;
J Hay & K Smith bt M Challenor & M Roberts 2&1;
A Ambler & A Wainwright bt S Elliott & R Crowley 1up;
N Fox & M McGinley bt J Hawkes & C Harmston 6&4;
C Hall & R Hall bt S Haggart & R Harrison 3&2;
S Robinson & E Duggleby bt L Slattery & M Hilton 3&2;
I Keenan & J Morgan bt A Lane & C Roope 4&3;
J Macniven & R Teale bt D Rennie & A White 6&5;
P McGinley & S Flanagan bt J Barnes & M Belsham 3&2.
K Maxwell & R Chapman bt R Macoy & R Sallis 2&1;
J Farmer & J Farmer bt P Smith & S Wild 2up;
K Will & A Tillman bt R Edginton & M Lawrence 1up;
S Andrew & K Andrew bt I Ellis & J Bevan 2up;
S Collier & L Rusher bt A Reynolds & A Hall 5&4;
S Lewton & C Russell bt K Freeman & G Woodman 4&3;
M Peel & D Peel bt K Staunton & R Jones w/o;
P Sherman & M Welch bt A Mackenzie & P Anderson 5&4;
C Williams & N Edwards bt B Jackson & N Job 3&2;
K Saunders & J Barnes bt R Russell & P Wardell 3&1;
J Kemp & B Connelly bt N Mitchell & S Mitchell 3&2;
S Cage & A Frontal-Gay bt J Wyke & D Cassidy 3&2;
J Carter & D Lomas bt K Taylor & G Edmonds 2&1;
S Godfrey & M Arrowsmith bt G Sherry & R Thornton at 20th;
J Evans & W Alsop bt O Kavanagh & D Fisher at 20th;
S Norman & M Homewood bt A Dyer & C Ledger 7&6;
D Park & B Dredge bt D Clarke & J Franks 6&5;
P Appleyard & L Godwin bt B Rimmer & S Gallagher 7&5;
L Fickling & M Deal bt M Naylor & R Hall 2&1;
N Gadd & M Palmer bt C George & L Jones 2&1;
J Marshall & M McLean bt R Hurd & L Jones 1up;
R Hodgkinson & P Carr bt C Hawkes & M Allen 6&5;
L Nash & P Milton bt M Howell & M Thirtle 3&2;
W Dugdale & G McNeill bt K Keeling & K Stevenson 7&5;
I Stungo & C Panton Lewis bt G Finch & M O'Connor 4&3;
S Maynard & S Barwick bt C Swinburn & M Nester 3&2;
I Campbell & R Walton bt C Buttivant & M Housego 3&2;
I Mosey & P Simpson bt C Gane & N Reilly 2up;
P Talbot & D Talbot bt J Jermine & S Moon 1up;
D Parris & B Barham bt P Lane & C Tigg 1up;
L Richardson & S Woodward bt M Moir & A Gold 4&3;
J Spence & T Johnson bt J Edwards & A Gibson 2up.