Jermine repels all challengers to take Seniors title

6th June 2008

<b><i>John Jermine<br></b>photo courtesy of Tom Ward</i>
John Jermine
photo courtesy of Tom Ward

John Jermine became the first Welshman to win the English Men’s Seniors Amateur Championship by firing a closing 74 at Wildernesse Golf Club in Kent.

The 63 year old scratch man from Sunningdale finished on 220, six over par, one stroke ahead of Scot Donald McCart and two clear of three Englishmen, Chris Reynolds, former winner Doug Arnold, and defending champion David Lane.

“I can’t believe it,” said Jermine. “This is a complete surprise. It makes golf worth playing and I’m more excited that when I was a boy.”

Jermine went into the final round sharing the lead with Arnold and Rod Crisp just a shot ahead of three others including Lane. But while most his rivals were shedding shots as the rain returned to this picturesque part of Kent, the Welshman was playing par golf and edging into a slight lead.

He was two clear playing the short 15th but that’s where his game began to unravel. Three bogeys in as many holes threatened his chances but he stayed on top of the leader board because everyone else was feeling the pressure. Playing the par-five 18th, Jermine was sharing the lead with local hope Peter Hedges, playing ahead, on seven over par and a playoff looked likely.

But former Walker Cup man Hedges, who knows every inch of his home club course, inexplicably took seven down the last. After his approach to the 489-yard hole finished in sand, he failed to get the ball out at the first attempt and his fourth shot flew over the green. From there he took three more strokes for a second successive 76 and 223 and sixth place.

However, all was not over as Jermine cut his drive at 18 deep into the trees but found his ball in the clear from where he chipped out then fired a seven-iron to a foot and holed for a winning birdie.

“I got lucky on the last and managed to finish with a great four,” said Jermine. “It was a chance in a hundred that the ball got through the trees but I recalled Paul Ashwell, the England coach saying to me: ‘only play a shot that you think you can play twice’.

“In the past I would have lost my head and tried to blast it. But I just hacked it out and fired the seven iron 152 yards to a foot. I thought I had lost my chance three holes earlier at the short 15th. I hit the seven iron there but I was out by two clubs. I then three-putted and the steam was coming out of my ears. But it all came right in the end.”

McCart, a Scottish seniors international, returned a closing 71, the only sub-par round of the tournament, to finish second on 221, while Reynolds finished bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie for 75 and 222.

Arnold, three times a winner of the title, was always in contention but he was fighting back pain and he did well to finish with 76, while Lane had two bogeys at the 15th and 17th to see his hopes of a fourth title disappear.

However, Reynolds won the Category A age group (55-59), Arnold the Category B (60-64) and Lane Category C (65-69). Category D for those aged 70 or more went to another former champion, Brian Berney on 234.