GO JONNY GO! Heyes wins Examiner matchplay competition.
THE expression 'if at first you don't succeed' was never more fitting than when applied to Fixby's Jonny Heyes.
After entering the Huddersfield Examiner Matchplay championship every year since it began in 2004, Heyes has finally won the tournament, and with it the prize of a free golfing holiday to Portugal.
Three times, Heyes has reached the final - and three times he has fallen at the final hurdle!
But at last, the five-handicapper from Huddersfield Golf Club has finally got his hands on the main prize and couldn't be more delighted after defeating Meltham's Chris Holmes 2&1 in the final showdown at Woodsome Hall.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to win the Examiner Championship, which has been hard won over the last nine years," admitted Heyes.
"I think it's a great event, and I've met some fantastic people over the years, and finally I might be able to get my Fixby colleague (and great friend) Nick Wilson off my back now.
"Nick won the first-ever Examiner Matchplay competition in 2004, and won a trip to Majorca, and he's been reminding me about it ever since. So it will be nice to put that chestnut to bed!" Heyes, a 53-year-old property manager, has grown up with Wilson from being a toddler, and although the two men regularly play together in fourball competitions, there is plenty of fierce but friendly rivalry between them.
To reach the final, Heyes had to defeat another Meltham player, immediate past captain Ian Saxton, in the morning which he managed with a 5&4 win.
Saxton, who admitted to not being at his best, slipped to three down after the first four holes. He did pull two holes back, but Heyes then pulled away again to finish the contest at the 14th.
Meanwhile, Holmes finished his semi against fellow Meltham club member Jack Thewlis at the 511-yard par five 16th which he birdied to win 3&2 after the two players had been locked all square after nine holes.
Holmes continued where he left off in the afternoon, when he was in striking distance of another birdie at the first hole in the final, which Heyes conceded after his short game momentarily deserted him.
But that was the only time that Holmes was in front, as Heyes levelled on the second with a par and then took the lead at the par three third, after Holmes found bunkers at either side of the green.
A super chip at the fourth left him a four-footer to go two up and although Holmes hit back to win the fifth, Heyes extended his lead to three by parring the seventh and then watching his opponent drive out of bounds at the eighth.
But the tenacious Holmes wouldn't lie down, and roared back to win the ninth and tenth with pars and reduce the gap to just one down again.
Level pars at the 11th were followed by another Heyes win up the steep 12th when Holmes again veered out of bounds right into the wood.
Both men hit the green at the 147-yard par three 13th, Holmes just lipping out from around 13ft, while Heyes suddenly wobbled with his putter as he missed a 3ft chance to go three up.
Heyes promptly put his second shot into the trees up the 14th, and although he played a miracle shot out to the front edge of the green, his opponent had a stroke advantage on handicap and Holmes again reduced the deficit to one with four holes to play.
But then came the decisive moment on the short par four across the top of the Woodsome course, when Holmes' attempted high lob (his second shot) into the green struck a tree and dropped straight down into the tree roots, leaving him with no option but to take a penalty, which still left him buried in thick undergrowth and no real out.
The game looked all over at the 511-yard 16th, when despite a terrific drive, Holmes's second went into a bunker right of the green, while Heyes played a wonderfully deft chip for his third to within 21/2ft of the pin.
Holmes found the green with his third, but with a 20-odd footer it seemed the match was destined for a 3&2 finish.
But once again Heyes left his putt above ground and so the pair of protagonists marched off to the 17th, with Holmes dormie two.
Both played good shots into the 'Cathedral' green, where Heyes finally slotted in a short range putt for a half and victory at the fourth time of asking, much to both his relief and that of his wife Janet, who caddied for him through the day.
"I've got to admit it took some getting over the line, but I'm pleased to win, although it is going to cost me at least an extra PS490 to take my wife," added Heyes.
. ? If anyone would like to join Heyes and those already booked on the Examiner Overseas Challenge to Lagos in Portugal, they need to get their names into tour organiser Paul Hanson as soon as possible with just under five weeks to departure date on November 1. Hanson Travel can be contacted on 0113 2393300.
| EXAMINER SHOOTOUT: Winner Jonny Heyes (above left and main picture), of Huddersfield Golf Club, is pictured with sponsor Paul Hanson of Hanson Travel and (below) the matchplay semi-finalists at Woodsome Hall (from left) Ian Saxton, Heyes, Jack Thewlis and Chris Holmes (JH200912Bgolf-01/ PW200912Egolf-01)