England Golf: Men’s Champion of Champions

WORTH THE WAIT: City of Newcastle’s Andrew Minnikin

Andrew strikes gold after two near misses

EG: Monday Sept 13th

FORMAT: 36-hole strokeplay

It was a case of third time lucky for Andy Minnikin as he triumphed in brilliant style at the England Golf Men’s Champion of Champions event.

The 41-year-old has twice come agonisingly close to winning national titles – at the Logan Trophy he was runner-up to Richard Aisbitt (2015) and Phil Ridden (2021) – but he made no mistake at Woodhall Spa yesterday, birdieing four of the last six holes to finish two ahead of Seb Cave (Warwickshire) and Nick Day (Gloucestershire).

The City of Newcastle player also maintains his county’s remarkable run of success this year with Northumberland Boys having won the county championship last month, the men’s team winning the Northern Counties qualifier in August – they take part in the county finals at Remedy Oak at the end of the month – and Ridden’s victory at the England O-35s.

“It is certainly a good period for Northumberland golf.” said Andy, who helps oversee England U-18s Boys training sessions in the north.

“Having just missed out on national titles before, it was great to get over the line.”

The highly competitive nature of the competition was highlighted by the fact 15 of the 23 finalists ended the first round within five shots of the lead, shared by Andy, Derbyshire’s James Booth and Durham’s Adam Charlton (on three under).

And with nine holes to go it was still wide open, the eventual champion starting the decisive move at the 13th where he holed out from 10 feet for a birdie. At the par five next, he managed to get to the front of the green in two and made no mistakes from 30 feet for his four.

At 15 he came close to another birdie but would not have to wait long to get to six under for the tournament. At the penultimate hole he had to creative with his second shot but managed to get his knockdown 9 iron to ten feet and again single putted. By this point he knew his lead was one shot over Cave, who was in the clubhouse having shot the round of the day (68).

A below-average drive meant he had to lay up on 18 while his playing partner Day, who was two shots behind, managed to find the green-side bunker with his second. Andy put his third to eight feet and then held his breath as the Gloucestershire stalwart came agonisingly close to holing out for eagle. A tap-in birdie left the Henbury player level with Cave which meant the leader had two for it but only needed one which meant he posted a second-round 69.

“To play the back nine in six under par across both days – and go bogey free – was particularly pleasing,” added Andy.

“I had some problems early on but as my confidence grew, the belief that I could hit the shots I needed to hit also grew.”

The three-time Northumberland champion started the competition bogey-par-bogey but an unlikely par at the fourth kickstarted his round into life. Having found trouble off the tee he was left with a 30-foot par putt, which he held.

By the end of the front nine he was under par for his round thanks to three birdies on the bounce, starting at the fifth. He would also birdie 16 and 17 to open with a 70.

His return to form has come at a particularly important part of the season for him and his clubmates Ridden and Alex Dixon. The trio defend their European Club title in Portugal next month (Oct 21-23) and will be joined at the Troia resort by another English team – the winner of this weekend’s champion club event at Knole Park. 

Leading scores (par 73)
1) Andrew Minnikin (Northumberland) 70, 69, 139 (-7)
2) Sebastian Cave (Warwickshire) 73, 68, 141 (-5)
3) Nick Day (Gloucestershire)  71, 70, 141 (-5)
4) Niall Keogh (Middlesex) 70, 72, 142 (-4)
5= Craig Adams (Somerset) 73, 70, 143 (-3)
5= Adam Charlton (Durham) 70, 73, 143 (-3)
7) Edward Dimambro (Cambridgeshire) 73, 71, 144 (-2)
8) Jordan Boulton (Nottinghamshire) 75, 70, 145 (-1)
9) Reis Suart (Hertfordshire) 72, 74, 146 (Level)
10= Ollie Read (Staffordshire) 75, 72, 147 (+1)
10= James Booth (Derbyshire) 70, 77, 147 (+1)
For all the scores click here