Posted by: scoringzone at 07:32, May 5 2016.
Britain’s Mark Smith compiled the joint-lowest round of the day, a 79, on the excellent challenge that is the Aa Saint-Omer Golf Club course, to win the Handigolf French Open 2016 on Sunday (1st May).
It was a round of skill and patience as Smith tackled the difficult 5,313 metre course and its sloping tests on the slick greens, and despite struggling for a while just after the turn he kept the ship steady, never dropping more than a shot on any hole during the day.
Others around him endured more volatile rounds and as Mark made a birdie at the 18th he secured this EDGA Tournament Series victory by two shots (with rounds of 82, 79) over Belgium’s Adem Wahbi, who shot 84 and 79.
Wahbi’s 79 was a little more dramatic. After a poor start where he was +4 after four holes, Adem rallied, with birdies at the 5th, 10th and 15th to raise his hopes of a second successive EDGA tournament win, only to blot his scorecard with an 8 on the par-4, 16th after struggling in the trees. He would birdie the last for an exciting 79 to keep the leader pressured up the last hole.
The famous Aa Saint-Omer course was ‘tough but fair’ for the players and the weather was milder and sunnier than forecast. The chasing pack included Belgium’s Cedric Lescut (84, 81), and home favourite Mathieu Cauneau (83, 82), who both finished four shots back from the winner in joint-third place, while Turkey’s Mehmet Kazan (85, 83) and Britain’s Mark Helm (81, 89) were always in the running. Mark Helm actually led the tournament after the first round with his solid 81.
After the event, a delighted Mark Smith said: “Playing in the last group with Mark [Helm] and Mathieu was a great experience; we are all of a similar mentality and never really get too excited or upset with our shots. Fortunately, I have played in the last group a few times so I know all you can do is take it one shot at a time and what will be, will be.”
In the Series 1 Nett category, Mehmet Kazan would triumph with rounds of 72 and 70 off a handicap of 13, seven shots clear of a chasing group of three Britons, Mark Smith, Tony Lloyd and Mark Helm, who were part of a very strong UK contingent of players in Northern France.
There was an excellent performance from Turkey’s Ahmet Ozyazici to win the Series 2 category; his score of 181 secured the win over second place Etienne Colbert (184), Pierre Dumas and Aurélien Lacour (both 187) and Ian Dixon (188).
Richard Saunders produced some wonderful golf to win the Stableford category. Richard’s 37 and 42 point scores over two rounds put him 12 points ahead of nearest rival, Georges Mecs (32, 35). Good play from Georges, and also Angelo Casu (30, 32) and Terry Kirby (29, 32) in a keenly contested group. Concerning the tournament as a whole, Mark Smith added: “It was a wonderful event, we always enjoy coming to Saint-Omer. We get really well looked after by Jean-Jacques Durand and his staff; the course was in fantastic condition with absolutely amazing greens.”
Meanwhile, Mark’s off-course highlight was “being so warmly congratulated by Nino Ourabah [EDGA Players’ Representative] after winning, was something I will always remember.”
Mark Smith, a very popular winner.
The next EDGA Tournament Series event is coming up quickly. The 16th Italian Disabled Open is staged from May 10-11 at Circola Golf e Tennis, in Rapallo, Genoa, North West Italy. See www.edgagolf.com for more details and all the news for ‘Golfers First’.