All Blacks legend turns caddy for victorious Jimmy
WALES: Wednesday, August 18th
FORMAT: 72-hole strokeplay
Not everyone can get one of his country’s greatest sportsmen to do a bit of caddying but Jimmy Hydes did just that as he triumphed at the Welsh Men’s Open Strokeplay Championship.
During a great battle with Carlisle’s Archie Davies at the Machynys Peninsula club, he was assisted for nine holes by former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick. The Kiwi legend needed to be back in London for 5pm so couldn’t do all of the final round.
However while he was on the bag, Jimmy went ahead and eventually finished two clear of the Welsh international with Scotland’s fast-finishing Lewis Irvine (Kirkhill) a further two shots back in third.
It was the third event the New Zealand amateur champion has played during his three-month stay in the UK. After missing the cut at the Walton Heath Trophy, he was tied 32nd at a EuroPro Tour event in Sussex and this week tackles the Brabazon before heading off to the South East of England Links Championship and then a EuroPro Tour event in Scotland.
“There are no tournaments in New Zealand right now and my ambition is to play on the European Tour so wanted to get a better understanding of how to play over here,” said the 22-year-old, who is planning another trip to the UK next year.
Fitzpatrick, who is on the board at the Llanelli-based Scarlets club, also arranged for Jimmy to stay with the mum of the club’s executive chairman Simon Muderack whilst in South Wales and her hospitality certainly helped.
“Patricia was great and Sean, who I know because we are both members at Gulf Harbour back home, has been amazing for me.”
Whatever support the legendary former New Zealand hooker was able to give over the front nine at Machynys certainly did no harm as his fellow countryman turned for home one ahead having started two back.
The Cumbria-based player then drew level with a birdie at the tenth and two holes later there was a huge momentum shift. With Davies having found the trees with his drive at the par four, Jimmy stuck his wedge to 25 feet and rolled in the birdie putt while his playing partner made a bogey.
Both players birdied the par five 13th, the Kiwi champion holing out from seven feet to stay two ahead, before the leader let a shot slip at 16 to set up a grandstand finish.
However he bounced back superbly with a two at the next. Both contenders had birdie chances, Davies missing from 20 feet and Jimmy sinking it from half that distance.
At 18 there was still time for a possible twist as the leader found a green-side bunker in two and had a decision to make with the ball right up against the lip. Fortunately for him it came out to 15 feet and he rounded things off in style, sinking a treacherous downhiller with his playing partner making a much more conventional four.
With 36 holes being played on the final day, the Welsh international had really set the tone by posting a bogey-free 66 in the third round.
Jimmy added: “Archie made such a hot start and, even though the weather was brutal, I knew I was going to have to win it.
“My club is perched on a cliff so I am used to windy conditions but it was the kind of day where you could quickly go backwards if you lost concentration at any point.”
Jimmy also paid tribute to the team at the Titleist Fitting studio at Woburn, who got him sorted with new woods and also helped him out with the short stick.
“I got a new driver, three wood and hybrid and the whole day really gave me a bit of confidence. I was also able to get a few pointers with the putting and in Wales everything worked pretty well.”