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Sunshine and stars brings record crowds to Nailcote Hall

The sun shone and the crowds came in record numbers to enjoy the top golfers and celebrities competing in this year’s Farmfoods’ British Par 3 Championship.

The event was hosted again by Ryder Cup captain and double major champion, Tony Jacklin CBE who flew in from Florida with his great friend, Larry Laoretti, 1992 US Senior Open champion and the event’s first ever USA competitor.

Armed with his trademark cigar, as well as his clubs, Larry charmed all the spectators with his sense of fun and style. The first American amateur team to play also joined in all the fun for the four days play – the Brandenburg team led by Lee Brandenburg from California was ably assisted by Doug Breen and Frank Christian from Augusta who along with his father has photographed every Masters since it started in 1934 – a year after the first Par 3 Short Course Championshi !

Past Ryder Cup and current Senior Tour player, Gordon J Brand won the Celebrity/Pro title on the first day while the very colourful Ian Halliwell’s team “The Social Golfer” assisted by Grand National winner, Bob Champion won the team event.

The Black Tie Gala dinner which followed saw Tony Jacklin singing after swinging! And Laura White – X Factor finalist and the evergreen Barron Knights with Pete Langford entertained the 250 guests with a terrific Rock ‘n’ Roll show.

After the first days warm up the serious business of the 36 hole PRO-AM started on Wednesday morning – at 7.20 a.m! And right from the start the youngest competitor 10 year old Harry Fearn made quite an impression, birdieing the first hole by chipping in from the bunker to the delight of his professional partner – 2006 Par 3 champion- Shaun P Webster.

Without a doubt the array of professionals joining the Championship was the best the event has ever seen with past Ryder Cup stars Maurice Bembridge, Tommy Horton, Malcolm Gregson and Gordon J Brand, being well supported by European Senior Tour players Carl Mason, Mark Mouland, Gary Wolstenholme, Tony Johnstone Andrew Sherborne and Dennis Durnian in their hunt for the title.

With a record £15,000 going to the winner and £5,000 to the over 60’s Super Senior winner, competition was sure to be fierce. Younger stars from the European Tour who were chasing the big prize included Graeme Storm, Gary Boyd, Scott Jamieson, Paul Broadhurst, Danny Willett, Simon Wakefield, David Dixon and Seve Benson.

At the end of the first day’s play, the clubhouse lead was held jointly by No 1 European Tour Senior star, Carl Mason and current European Tour player, David Dixon at 3 under par – a very good score in the tricky breezy conditions.

Another bright day brought the crowds out in force to see the conclusion of the main championship. Jasper Carrott who was playing with Paul Broadhurst and Peter Schmeichel who was paired with 2010 champion, Richard O’Hanlon were hoping their partners could make strong moves up the leaderboard but they both had to cope with finishing 14th.

But a couple of players were playing well and one in particular Andrew Sherborne was charging up the leaderboard. Starting at 1 over par he reached 5 under par with two holes to play. Then successive bogeys dropped him back to finish at 3 under par – but with the lead in the clubhouse. Carl Mason and David Dixon had been slipping back during their rounds but Simon Wakefield and Seve Benson were pushing the new leader. Simon birdied the 35th hole to get to 2 under par and needed a birdie at the last to force a play-off !

But, under pressure his tee shot failed to find the green and a bogey 4 saw him finish at 1 under par for 2nd place, behind the champion – Andrew Sherborne. Seve Benson finished on level par for 3rd place – a very creditable effort on his first visit to Nailcote.

Seve enjoyed a consolation success in winning the Better Ball Pairs title and the Halliwell Cup with partner, Jason Preston. The runners up were Shaun Webster and his 10 year old partner, Harry Fearn !

After all the excitement of the main event, it was back to another Celebrity/Am team day on the final day with more celebrity players joining in, including Bobby Davro, Anton du Beke, James Jordan, Ron Atkinson, Willie Thorne, Bill Roache and Alan McInally.

A great day finished with Bobby Davro’s Britvic team in the runners up
place and just pipped by the Dowding & Mills’ team with celebrity
Dougie Brown to the last title of the week.Shaun P Webster won the
individual celebrity prize.

Evening celebrations included Nailcote’s owner Rick Cressman being presented with a very special 60th Birthday cake designed top look like the 9th hole, by his wife Sue. Partying went on until the early hours with entertainment by Bobby Davro, X Factor runner up Andy Abraham and a James Brown Soul & Funk Party tribute.

All in all a great week helped by some lovely weather and the generosity of everyone involved raised £24,000 for the Rainbow’s Hospice. Now the plans start for next year when the Farmfoods’ British Par 3 Championship will return to Nailcote Hall from the 7th – 10th August. Tony Jacklin confirmed he will be back again and reminded everyone at the final dinner that the “short game” is the part of golf that really matters !

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