With competitors battling it out for a place in the UK Final at Turnberry it seemed appropriate that the 2008 Volkswagen Masters got underway at a classic links venue. Players gathered on the East Coast of England at Hunstanton Golf Club looking to secure the first three places in the UK Final.
Hunstanton is a traditional out and back links that combines a great setting with a fair test of golf which will challenge all standards. Looking out from the clubhouse balcony the intimidatingly close first tee and enormous bunker in front of a rolling fairway immediately let you know that this is seaside golf at its finest. The two great finishing holes are evidence alone why the course is ranked 73rd in Golf Monthlys Top 120 Course Rankings. The 17th is a 447 yard par 4 with a sloping fairway which usually plays into the wind. The 18th is around 50 yards shorter than 17 but can prove equally as difficult.
On such a classic links it was also fitting that strong winds greeted competitors on the morning of the first Volkswagen Masters regional qualifier. The front nine proved difficult for early starters thanks to the rain, wind and mist but the weather had cleared up by the time the first group turned for home.
Competitors were split into three handicap categories with a winner from each progressing to the UK Final at Turnberry. Handicap Groups A and B played 18 holes of medal while Group C played a round of Stableford.
Those who competed in Group A played in the most difficult conditions but still produced some impressive scores. With a level par round of nett 72, 8 handicapper Jeremy Freeman finished in third place. The Seacroft Golf Club member just missed out on second place after a count-back. Andy Green form Boston Golf Club also shot a nett 72 playing off 5 to take second place. Winner of a place in the UK final from Group A was Roger Taylor from Aldeburgh Golf Club. The 3 handicapper produced a superb round of nett 70 to take the win by two shots.
Group B proved even closer with another count-back deciding the final result. Gordon Knott of Royal Norwich finished in third place with an excellent round of nett 70 playing off a handicap of 10. Fellow Royal Norwich member Matt Willets finished with a round of nett 69 to tie with Stoke by Nayland member Robin Nicholson. It was Nicholson who claimed the win on count-back.
It was not so close in Group C where Boston Golf Club member Philippe Servonat Blanc produced a phenomenal 45 points playing off 23. The Frenchman will no doubt have a lower handicap when he appears in the UK Final in September. Seacrofts David Coleman and Tony Osmanski finished second and third with 38 and 33 points respectively.