Thursday, 25 October 2012

The 2012 World Crazy Golf Championship

I'm not crazy! My mother had me tested...

So here we are again, the end of October. Winter is on the way. The Olympics are a distant memory... and over 50 hardy souls are preparing to brace themselves against the Hastings seafront climate to try and win the final 'major' of the minigolfing calendar. Yes, it's time for the WORLD CRAZY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP.

And wherever there's a big BMGA event, you can rest assured that the PP will cast their thoughts into the ether, looking at the likely winners and losers from the competition.

For the completists amongst you, the full list of these crazee folk can be found at but as is the tradition with my predictions, below are the main protagonists as I see it for the weekend...

The Former winners;

Michael Smith and Keith Kellard. The man from Oxford has proven to be (virtually) unbeatable this season and with 2 majors under his belt along with this title from 2011 he will again be the man to beat (but despite all of this I reckon this will be one event to far for the KMGC's form man).

Kellard has not been playing on the tour for a while and this would normally be a sure fire way of crashing out of the event. But the man has pedigree so will be challenging for the top 10. Can't see him troubling the cash prizes though.

The Internationals:

Olivia Prokopova (CZE), Pasi Aho (FIN), Christian Fuchs (GER) and Jon Drexler (USA). Prokopova comes to the event on the back of winning the US Masters but as the quality of the field has improved over the years, it appears that the little Czech master has struggled to compete at the highest level in Hastings. The new cups could well be her undoing (she win not be alone with this) so can't see her troubling the top slot and will do well to take home the top ladies trophy.

The flying Finn, Aho, could be the man to watch this year. Top technique and well schooled in the Hastings conditions, if he can deal with the changes to the course should be in the money this weekend.

Fuchs is the new face in the event so is an unknown factor. The history of German unknowns is strong at the Hastings seafront (albeit on the Pirate course) but can't see a Hastings novice challenging for honours at the Crazies.

Which leaves the D-Man from the US of A. Could do well as Drexler is an experienced player in the States and has at least seen the course before (if not played it). A few days practise and a slot in the top 18 seems assured.

The "previously nearly won it but never quite managed it":

Andy Exall, Peter Emmerson and James Rutherford. The 'close but no cigar' brigade.

Exall usually puts in a decent showing at the event and as a veteran of the Sidcup course is one of the players that won't be phased by the new cups. Will be in the mix at the sharp end come Sunday afternoon.

As for Emmerson, should have won in 2010 and given his finish last year it looks like his best days at the event are behind him. Not played much at all this year and with the changes to the course would expect him to be drifting out of contention by day 2.

Rutherford has yet to perform well on the big stage this year in the UK, despite being head and shoulders above all other Great Britain players in Europe. Disappointing and surprising showing at the British Open but expect him to be in the money by the end of the weekend.
That lot from Kent:

Sean Homer, The Kelly's, Scott Lancley, Marc Chapman, The Donnelly's and Sandra Meg Alex Pragnell. Kent are back again in strength at this years event (hurrah we all shout/jeer), having dominated the top slots last year. But apart from Smith and Exall already profiled, do they have the depth of talent to worry the leader board in 2012?

The BMGA's president, Homer, has failed to challenge in the majors this year and has finished nowhere for the past couple of years at the event. Not renowned for intensive practise and unlikely to feature at the sharp end on Sunday.

Kelly junior has shown strong form in all of the big events this season, and will be one of the players to beat this weekend. Can't see a repeat of last year where the two K's tied in the top 5 as Kelly the older may struggle to keep up with his progeny and could be one of the big names to fall away and miss the cut.

Lancley hit his career high last year with a 6th place finish, just 2 shots off the leaders. Will do well to repeat this at the weekend but should be a safe top 18 finisher whatever happens.

Last year saw Chapman approach the event on the back of his British Open title and in typically bullish fashion was confident of a double major on his minigolf CV. However it all went wrong when he hit a 42 in round 5 (the equal worst competition round across the top 45 finishers) and his title push went off the rails. Will we see a repeat of this again in 2012 or will he challenge for the title. Can't see him cocking it up 2 years in a row so have to throw his name into the ring for the title this time around.

The Donnelly's looked excellent at the British Championships but then struggled to replicate this at the British Open. One ball, and the magic cups, could be too much for Kent's newest recruits and with the quality and experience in the field will sadly miss the cut after 6 rounds.

Pragnell has been a permanent fixture at the course for the past month so is clearly well practised for this years event. Expect a better performance than in his debut at the competition but cannot see him troubling the top 18. A top half finish would be a good result - but of course it will be interesting to see what Sandra Meg predicts for Perfect Parr this time around.

The best of the rest:

Chris Smith, Richard Gottfried, Trevor Exall, John McIver, Brad Shepherd, Ruth Burke, Alan Norman and The Shaws. A varied band of minigolfers to be sure.

Smith senior made the top 18 last year but even with the UK number one as his coach, I think he will finish just outside the cut this time around.

Unfortunately it appears that the wrong Gottfried is lining up for the event this year. Emily, fresh off a second place in the recent Planet Hastings Open, is not playing and the pressure is well and truly on Mr Gottfried to justify his place in the competition. Missed the cut last year, and will likely repeat this again in 2012.

With only 3 Exalls taking part this year it's going to seem quite peculiar and unfortunately for the grand family of UK minigolf and Trevor in particular, it is likely only one will make the top 18.

McIver, Planet Hastings greatest hope, will be looking to break the dominance of his chums from Kent and put Planet Hastings back on the map this year. You have to think that the local boy with his local knowledge is well placed to put in a strong performance. Has good form in the events he's played in this year so one to watch for the weekend. 

The Monkish lead 'singer' has a mixed track record at the event but Shepherd is always a reasonably safe bet for the top 18 (unless he gets the yips over the new cups). A Saturday evening 'gig' could either inspire him to glory or destroy his hopes of pushing into the money positions. Perhaps his most likely way of grabbing any cash is to pick up the aces prize after crashing out of the top 18 places...

Burke, the strongest woman player on the tour and a local to boot so has good pedigree in the event and should comfortably make the top 18, and could be the top lady come competition end.

One of the regular London 'four', Norman has moments of brilliance that could see him move up the leader board only to be followed by rounds of desperation that will see him slide back down again. Just missed out on the top 18 last year by 1 shot - could well be the same story again this year.

The Shaws have taken residence at the course this week and along with Pragnell are probably the most practised players for the event. Both could make it into the final 18 if everything goes well but I fear that it is just as likely (perhaps more so) that both will, like Norman, just miss the cut by the narrowest of margins.

So my picks for the top 18 (in no particular order) are as follows:

  1. Michael Smith
  2. Keith Kellard
  3. Olivia Prokopova
  4. Pasi Aho
  5. Jon Drexler
  6. Andy Exall
  7. Peter Emmerson
  8. James Rutherford
  9. Sean Homer
  10. Adam Kelly
  11. Tony Kelly
  12. Brad Shepherd
  13. Scott Lancley
  14. Marc Chapman
  15. John McIver
  16. Kevin Moseley
  17. Ruth Burke
  18. Craig Patterson
So with the 18 places safely accounted for, who will take home the titles?

Burke will take the Ladies title.

Kelly will finish top junior.

But what about the main event?

The safe bet would be to go for either SmithExall or Rutherford (last years 1, 2, 3). Ultimately It will depend on who can keep their focus and avoid getting put off by the ongoing chatter about balls, cups and felt.

I have a feeling that we will see a new name on the trophy come Sunday evening and it won't come from the 3 above. Might be one of the Kent lot - the ever popular Chapman or Kelly the Younger would be a decent bet - or possibly we will see one of the Internationals finally take the title away from the UK.

Either way, there will be twists and turns, the occasional choke, the predictable moans about the conditions and of course, someone travelling home £1000 better off.

And remember:

"When you participate in sporting events, it's not whether you win or lose, it's how drunk you get."

Until next time,


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The British Open - Strokes adventure Golf, Margate

The British Open returns to Strokes in Margate this weekend for I believe the 4th time in its history. A tough challenge for the best of players so who does the PP think will be shining on the greens and who will see their challenge cruelly die on the legendary Heartbreak Ridge?

With a strong field confirmed for the event including a powerhouse of International competitors it will be a monumental scrap to secure a place in the top 18 for the final round of the weekend.

So who will make it?

I predict, In no particular order, the following will be contesting the last round:

  • Marc Chapman
  • Johan Ahlander
  • Michael Smith
  • Jouni Valkjärvi
  • Sean Homer
  • Mattias Ståhl
  • Andy Exall
  • Adam Kelly
  • James Rutherford
  • Björn Dinau
  • Tony Kelly
  • John McIver
  • Petri Tossavainen
  • Karsten Hein
  • Torgny Kjellström
  • Mikael Karlsson
  • Maths Svensson
  • Lutz Brune

8 Brits and 10 Internationals. Some big names failing to make it but c'est la vie. I am sure there are players who are convinced they will be in the mix come Sunday afternoon who are not on the 18 above - time will tell if PP is right or wrong.

So, next up, will there be a new course record at the weekend? 30 has been shot twice and there have been numerous 31's and 32's over the years. But sub 30? Now there is a challenge. 7 aces and no dropped shots. Or 8 aces and a 3 and so on and so forth. Sounds easy but the best of the best have played the course and no-one has managed it yet. There have been players getting very close... and there are the requisite number of aceable holes on the course. Get through 7, 8 and 11 without dropping a shot and hitting the final seven holes 3 under or better and the course record is possible.

So will it go?

I think finally it will. And perhaps we will see 2 or 3 sub 30's by the end of the event.

Who will get it?

3 names spring to mind.

1) Michael Smith - the Terminator of minigolf. If he can take on the course rather than let it boss him, then yes, Smith is the man to do it

2) Adam Kelly - The young master who recently shot the lowest ever round by a UK minigolfer with a 20 on Eternite. Can't see it happening consistently but the 'lightning in a bottle' round could come from Kelly Jr.

3) Björn Dinau - the classiest player in the field. Has unfinished business with Strokes so my money is on Mr Dinau to be the first (and maybe even the only) one to shoot this milestone.

And finally.

Who will win?

After the epic top 5 UK players clean sweep result last year I do not think we will see any repeat in 2012. Can see one, possibly 2 Brits in the top 5 but I think it will be business as usual again with the Internationals taking the win this year.

And although the returning 'Strokes' champions will be close - step forward Ståhl, Kjellström and Valkjärvi - I think this year we will see a new British Open Champion. The peoples favourite...

Mr Björn Dinau

A popular winner and an all round nice guy.

Until next time.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A post Prediction review - the British Doubles Championship

It's always important to do a spot of self reflection these days - after all it's not easy being the premier minigolf predictor in the virtual world - and so I thought it would be interesting to see how accurate PP's predictions were for the Doubles event in the Midlands.

The results have been posted on line ( so here we go.

Overall top 4 places:

Predictions / Actual

4th - May the Force Be With Who / 9th
3rd - Oxbridge Morons / 5th
2nd - Booze Brothers / 4th
1st - Jiff-Free / 2nd

Not a bad effort, surprisingly the only one wide of the mark was the reigning (as they were) champions who appear to have crashed out in the group stages with little more than a whimper, finally finding form (i.e. a win) when they were already dead in the water. Clearly the expectations of defending the title saw the previously unbeatable pairing choke when it really mattered.

So what about the individual team predictions I hear you ask? Lets have a look at how accurate PP was in my pre-event musings...

1) MAY THE FORCE BE WITH WHO - Chris Harding & Marc Chapman - the reigning champions having taken the title for the past 2 years. Can they do it again? Probably. Will they? No.

100% accurate. They didn't win. 1 out of 1

2) WILSON - Oliver Florence & Richard Skeggs. Last years runners up were the surprise package of the event but I can't see them repeating this in 2012... remains to be seen if Skeggs can keep himself and the Machine focused long enough to win this weekend.

Finished 8th. After topping their group it all went wrong. And the latest reports from the camp indicate that the Gentle Touch has retired from minigolf. Tis a cruel game. Another accurate prediction. 2 for 2

3) CASUAL FORCE - Sean Homer & Marion Homer. Can they take the crown? It will take more than a degree of luck for this given the Presidents form this year.

Proved to be the case. Crept through the group but luck clearly deserted them. Finished 6th. Another winner. 3 for 3

4) TEAM SQONKEY - Richard Gottfried & Scott Lancley. If they get a tough group then will probably be trawling the bottom half of the event for scraps.

Finished 7th. Got through their group well but not a tough ask by the look of things. But then didn't win again until the last match. Did better than predicted. Oh well. 3 for 4 still not too bad.

5) JIFF-FREE - Seth Thomas & Chris Smith. Could go all the way.

They did. But fell at the final hurdle to finish 2nd. Accurate again. 4 from 5.

6) TEAM SPLODGE - Marina Breeden & Adam Breeden. Could cause an upset or two if they can make the most of home advantage. 

They didn't. Came 14th with just 1 win in their 5th match. Got that one wrong. 4 from 6.

7) THE BOOZE BROTHERS - Brad Shepherd & Chris Jones. Will be tough to beat if Shepherd, a proven Matchplay contender, can keep his game together.

Finished 4th. Powered through the group. Took out the reigning champions. Took out the fancied number 1 & 2 pairing in the quarters and then fell to the eventual winners. Were a tough team. Accurate again i'd say. 5 from 7.

8) GEMINI - Steve Sturdy & Ruth Burke. Can't see them troubling the top slots.

They didn't. Finished 12th courtesy of an easy quarter final draw having lost 3 out of 3 in the group. Another spot on prediction. 6 from 8.

9) WILLFRED - Will Donnelly & Freddie Blackburn-Shaw. Will either be pushing for a top 5 finish or perhaps more likely will crash and burn in the group stages.

They came 15th but unfair to say they crashed and burnt. Finished their group with 6 points and failed to go into the top half of the KO's on stroke difference. Clearly had stuffing knocked out of them by this and didn't win again until the final match. Think I got this one wrong. 6 from 9.

10) PERFECT FOR SHAW - Alex Pragnell & Alastair Shaw. They have a chance of taking a scalp or two.

Finished 13th. Had a tough group and then drew the bruised ex champs in the quarter finals. Won the last 2 matches to claim a decent finish. So I will give myself this one! 7 from 10.

11) YOU'VE BEEN NICKTED - John McIver & Nick Chitty. See this power pair fail to make the top 8.

Won the event. About as wrong a prediction as you can get. 7 from 11.

12) WE'AR THE LADS - John Moore & Dave Donnelly. I think they may do well.

They did. Came 3rd. Another one for the PP. 8 from 12.

13) WEIR BIN YO FROM - Owen Johnson & Paul Johnson. Have a chance of not coming last. If it all kicks off during a match then they may as well concede the points straightaway.

They came last. 9 from 13.

14) OXBRIDGE MORONS - Michael Smith & James Rutherford. I fear that the only thing that will drown out the desperation in these two will be the tears and tantrums as 2012 proves to be yet another nail in the Doubles coffin of Rutherford and Smith.

Breezed through the group then lost at first knockout stage. Came 5th. I'll claim this one as well. 10 from 14.

15) THE SNOOZE BROTHERS - Alan Norman & Gareth Holmes. Their slow play could be their main weapon as the matches drag on in the Midlands sun.

Won 1 match in the group but failed to make top 2. Finished 10th with strong 2nd half of the event. But not really much to claim as an accurate prediction. 10 from 15.

And finally.

16) REAL ALE MADRID - Jam Trubridge & Rob Dodd. It will be a tough ask to see them push into the top half of the event. Their name is ultimately a lot better than they are.

Finished 11th. Name better than them. Chalk it up. 11 from 16.

So a grand total of close to 70% accuracy.

Not bad from a matchplay event with a random draw.

Roll on the British Open...

Until then.


Friday, 7 September 2012

A weekend Double Header in the Midlands - Part 2


First of all, a look at the teams that are still intact from last years event:

1) MAY THE FORCE BE WITH WHO - Chris Harding & Marc Chapman - the reigning champions having taken the title for the past 2 years. Can they do it again? Probably. Will they? No.

2) WILSON - Oliver Florence & Richard Skeggs. Last years runners up were the surprise package of the event but I can't see them repeating this in 2012. Florence has been 'turned' by the lure of Worm Charming and it remains to be seen if Skeggs can keep himself and the Machine focused long enough to win this weekend.

3) CASUAL FORCE - Sean Homer & Marion Homer. The longest running pair in the Doubles event returning for the fifth year in a row. If a photo hitting the net this week is accurate It would appear that the better half of the pairing has now been given the captains armband. Can Lady Homer take the pair to the elusive crown? It will take more than a degree of luck for this given the Presidents form this year.

4) TEAM SQONKEY - Richard Gottfried & Scott Lancley. Failed to live up to their own hype last year with a poor knockout stage. A no-show and a dismal finish in the recent Matchplay Championship doesn't bode well for the returning Midlands/Kent hybrid. If they get a tough group then will probably be trawling the bottom half of the event for scraps.

5) JIFF-FREE - Seth Thomas & Chris Smith. The name has changed (so long the Green Warriors) and this may well prove enough to see the Cambridgeshire Minigolf club duo make a charge for the title in 2012. Thomas, fresh from his debut at Porto will have a point to prove given recent disappointments and Smith Sr has shown some real form in Matchplay over the last 12 months. Could go all the way.

6) TEAM SPLODGE - Marina Breeden & Adam Breeden. The local pairing. Had a tough debut in 2011 being drawn in the same group as CF and MTFBWW and ended in the bottom half of the drawn for the Knockout stages. No doubt have been hitting the greens of Dorridge since their only other event this year in January so could cause an upset or two if they can make the most of home advantage. 

7) THE BOOZE BROTHERS - Brad Shepherd & Chris Jones. Back together again after a less than successful break in 2011. The third married couple in the returning teams, will be tough to beat if Shepherd, a proven Matchplay contender, can keep his game together.

So with 7 returning pairs we have the final 9 'new' partnerships:

8) GEMINI - Steve Sturdy & Ruth Burke. Both played well at the Club Championships in 2011 at Dorridge so could be a decent bet for a couple of wins. But can't see them troubling the top slots.

9) WILLFRED - Will Donnelly & Freddie Blackburn-Shaw. Will either be pushing for a top 5 finish or perhaps more likely will crash and burn in the group stages. If they can manage to unsettle (i.e. annoy) their opponents with their constant chatter then could well cause an upset or two (if only to the sanity of those playing against them).

10) PERFECT FOR SHAW - Alex Pragnell & Alastair Shaw. A great name. Not sure there's much more to say that hasn't already been said. Alastair proved to be a tough matchplay player in the recent 2012 championships so the pairing has that going for them. Alex will need to focus better than he has shown in recent events or this could be a nightmare for both players. However if Alastair takes control of the pairing then they have a chance of taking a scalp or two.

11) YOU'VE BEEN NICKTED - John McIver & Nick Chitty. A late pairing with an even later name (finally appeared on line earlier today). The anticipated return of the ex-UK number 1 hasn't materialised and although it will be disappointing to miss his reaction to the new GRRRRR king , the reality is that the pairing is stronger with the arrival of Chitty. If slow play is not penalised then they could have a chance but the glory days of Planet Hastings are a distant memory so could see this power pair fail to make the top 8.

12) WE'AR THE LADS - John Moore & Dave Donnelly. On paper a strong pairing. Whether they can cut it when the pressure is on is questionable. I think they may do well.

13) WEIR BIN YO FROM - Owen Johnson & Paul Johnson. The Midlands captain has a decent record in matchplay and if Johnson Jr can keep his head when the matches hot up and doesn't have one of his traditional rants at Johnson Sr then they have a chance of not coming last. If it all kicks off during a match then they may as well concede the points straightaway.

14) OXBRIDGE MORONS - Michael Smith & James Rutherford. After a poor showing by both players in last years event (with different partners) this pairing has the gentle whiff of desperation as the current top 2 players in the UK team up to try and banish the painful memories of 2011. I fear that the only thing that will drown out the desperation in these two will be the tears and tantrums as 2012 proves to be yet another nail in the Doubles coffin of Rutherford and Smith. Or they might just win it.

15) THE SNOOZE BROTHERS - Alan Norman & Gareth Holmes. The name is back but with a different line-up for 2012. Norman is a dogged player and if Holmes can cope with the sun and heat then they might do quite well. Their slow play could be their main weapon as the matches drag on in the Midlands sun.

16) REAL ALE MADRID - Jam Trubridge & Rob Dodd. Possibly the best name in the field and with Trubridge they have a proven winner on the doubles circuit (2009 Champion with McIver). Dodd has been MIA on the circuit for a while so it will be a tough ask to see them push into the top half of the event. Their name is ultimately a lot better than they are.

As for who will win? Impossible to call even once the draw is done. Whatever the draw, looking at the pairings above I could safely predict 7 teams who won't win but can't pick a winner overall.

But what's the point in being a predictor who cant predict (you know who you are Sandra Meg). So here we go:

4th - May the Force Be With Who
3rd - Oxbridge Morons
2nd - Booze Brothers

1st - Jiff-Free

And that's your lot for now. Until then, in the words of the new Midlands Captain, Johnson Sr,



Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A weekend Double Header in the Midlands - Part 1


Saturday sees the Midlands Open once again taking place at the Four Ashes Golf Centre in Dorridge, near Solihull.

Having looked at the confirmed entrants (here) it would appear that the pre-tournament favourite, Chris Harding, isn't listed. Surely the Midlands Master won't miss the one event that the Midlands club actually manage to pull together each season?

If he does play then you'd be a fool to bet against anything other than a Harding win... which is why i'm going for The Rocket, James Rutherford to take the title. It will be close (it always is when you are limited to 12 holes a round) and from the list of entrants I would expect Smith Jr,  Homer and Chitty (back for the first event for a long time) to be close to the newly crowned King Of The European Championship.

I've also noticed that there's no Chapman in the line up although he and Who are listed for the Doubles - perhaps he will be paraded into the course on the shoulders of his minions - the survivors from the recent Porto outing? If he plays then he should do OK. Another missing name is Seth Thomas, down for the Doubles so surely he's likely to play in the Open as well? He should. After gate crashing the Kent Open last year and walking off with the title on the KMGC's home patch this could well become a habit of Mr Orange on the BMGA tour.

Outside bet for the MO? How about the Fist, Londons very own Brad Shepherd or maybe even the lesser Gottfried? Surely one day Squire will triumph in a tournament with more than 2 people playing?

And then of course there's the mighty Praggers. Alex "Perfect Par" Pragnell to give him his full title. Mr Consistently inconsistent. Go on Alex, prove the Putting Predictor wrong and bag your first top ten finish. Somehow I wont be holding my anonymous breath on this one...

Part 2 to follow soon focussing on the main event of the weekend, the British Doubles Championship.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

The British Matchplay Championship Group predictions

Well the draw has been made (and published in record time on the BMGA website) and looks like this:
  • Group A - John McIver, Alex Pragnell, Will Donnelly + 1 tbc
  • Group B - Seth Thomas, Freddie Blackburn-Shaw, Brenda Smith, Marc Chapman
  • Group C - Nick Sandqvist, Scott Lancley, Tony Kelly, Brad Shepherd
  • Group D - Marion Homer, Owen Johnson, Alan Norman, Adam Kelly
  • Group E - Sean Homer, Alastair Shaw, Paul Johnson, James Rutherford
  • Group F - David Donnelly, Michael Smith, Andy Exall, Chris Smith

So as promised here’s the Putting Predictors predictions of who will be the top 2 in each group:


Mciver and Donnelly both beat Pragnell. McIver beats Donnelly and tops the group so presuming there are no 11th hour entrants it will be McIver and Donnelly topping the group but with the 'missing' fourth player it should see Pragnell qualify as one of the top 4 third place players due to his 'bonus' 3 points as long as he doesn't get hammered in either of his two matches and ends up with a dreadful stroke difference.


Thomas and Shaw draw. Chapman beats Smith. Chapman beats Shaw. Thomas beats Smith. Shaw beats Smith. Thomas beats Chapman.

Chapman and Thomas through.


Lancley beats Sandqvist. Shepherd draws with Kelly. Kelly beats Sandqvist. Shepherd draws with Lancley. Sandqvist beats Shepherd. Kelly and Lancley tie. The two Kent players, Kelly and Lancley edge this group. But Shepherd has a good track record against quality players and Sandqvist is also playing well by all accounts. Whatever happens, one of the top players will not be in the top 16 (possibly 2).


Homer beats Johnson. Kelly beats Norman. Norman beats Homer, Kelly beats Johnson. Johnson draws with Norman. Kelly beats Homer.

Kelly and Norman taking the spoils.


Homer beats Shaw. Rutherford beats Johnson. Homer beats Johnson, Rutherford beats Shaw. Shaw beats Johnson. Homer and Rutherford draw.

Homer and Rutherford topping the group tied on points.


Donnelly and Smith tie. Exall and Smith tie. Exall beats Donnelly. Smith beats Smith. Smith and Exall tie. Donnelly and Smith tie.

Smith and Exall through. Probably Michael but could be Chris as the Twittersphere has been abuzz today with reports of an unwell UK number 1. 

As for the rest of the qualifiers, its tough to say who will join the 12 players in the final 16. Would hazard a guess that Blackburn-Shaw, Marion Homer and Pragnell will all creep through but I just cannot pick a fourth and final player at this stage.  

As for the knockout stages this is in the lap of the gods dependant on the draw.

But no doubt there will be a few shocks, tears and tantrums as the day progresses…

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The British Matchplay Championship preview

Yes, the Putting Predictor is back - cue fanfare and applause - to cast an eye over the protaganists in this weekends BMGA British Matchplay Championship, being held on Sunday 22nd July at the Lost Island Adventure Golf course in Sidcup.

After my British Championships post, and the frenzy of activity that followed to find out 'who is the Putting Predictor', some players felt that I was perhaps too harsh on some players and that I should temper my comments in any future blogs.

My response? Life can be tough and the truth hurts sometimes. The Putting Predictor just speaks their mind. To quote the late great Frank Drebbin "The truth hurts, doesn't it? Oh sure, maybe not as much as landing on a bicycle with the seat missing, but it hurts!"

I think that says it all.

So for those of a sensitive disposition, perhaps it's best you go and find another blog and let the grown ups have their say...

So, in BMGA official Matchplay ranking order here are the contenders for this years British Matchplay Championship:

Sean Homer (1) - The defending champion, looking to make it three-in-a-row. Having been gifted the 2010 title by defeating the might of the BMGA's child labour, had a much harder route last year, taking out the British Champion (Rutherford) in the round of 16 and the UK number 1 (Smith) in the final. A very tough and experienced matchplay player, demonstrated by coming back from 3 down in the final. Sometimes a slow starter but if he gets out of his group, probably a slight favourite going into the knockout stages.

Brad Shepherd (2) - 4th in 2010 and 3rd in 2011, having been beaten in the semi-final by Homer. A great competitor and capable of beating everyone in the field (was one putt away from beating the Champion in the group stages). Perhaps a bit fragile when it comes to the real sharp end of a match but if he keeps his game face on throughout the day could produce his best finish in the competition to date.

Marc Chapman (3) - 8th in 2010 and 9th in 2011. Took out Smith in the first round in 2010 only to be dumped out of the event in the quarterfinals by Shepherd. Fell at the first knockout stage in 2011 however and has yet to maintain a run of form throughout the premier matchplay event. If he gets a favourable draw then could do well but likely to fall to the first quality player he encounters in the knockout stages.

Michael Smith (4) - 17th in 2010 and runner-up in 2011. A rare event on the tour for the Terminator of UK minigolf i.e. one that he has yet to win. Having been beaten in the first match of the 2010 event, Smith went on an unbeaten run in the Matchplay Championships right up to the final in 2011 until he was stopped in his tracks by the reigning champion. That said, he didn't have the toughest group and struggled to get through the very early KO stages but once on a roll, he is a hard man to beat. But unlike his strokeplay form, he is not unbeatable. As long as the draw keeps them apart, we could see another repeat of the 2011 Smith v Homer final.

Tony Kelly (5) - 6th in 2010 and 10th in 2011. The 'nearly man' of the KMGC. Yet to win a tour event that doesn't have the word Senior in the title. Beaten in the quarter finals in 2010 after a relatively easy passage and then following a superb group phase (winning three out of three) got punted out of the event by team mate Exall in the round of 16. Has been very close to taking a win on the Explorers course so has to be in with a shot of going further this year. If he can keep calm under the overwhelming barrage of tournament stats then could be one to watch on Sunday.

Paul Johnson (7) - 15th in 2010 and 7th in 2011. The main man in the Midlands team when it comes to Matchplay although JPJ will be hoping to avoid his Matchplay nemesis Homer who has dumped him out of the event twice in the past 2 years. If he doesn't get sidetracked and put off by Johnson jr, he could pull off a few surprises - that is of course unless he faces the reigning champ at which point he may as well pack his bags and go back to Brum.

Scott Lancley (8) - 14th in 2010 and 2011. A consistent performer in terms of results but unfortunately the results have been pretty poor. Has yet to show what he can do when it comes to matchplay. Like Johnson, he has been KO'd in the competition for the past 2 years by the same player so will be hoping to avoid the same fate this year if he comes face to face with his nemesis, the boy from London, Brad Shepherd. If the stars align and Lancley feels on top of his game then should be pushing for the top 8 on Sunday.

John McIver (11) - 20th in 2010 and 18th in 2011. The old stager. The sartorially elegant minigolfer. Planet Hastings' last hope. And actually in suprisingly good form so far in 2012. But away from the home comforts of Hastings seafront it is hard to see him challenging for the title this year on a course that he has had little success to date. Fell at the first hurdle in 2010 and failed to make it out of his group in 2011. Could be the biggest name to fall in the group stages if he's not on his game from match 1.

Marion Homer (12) - 30th in 2010 and 12th in 2011. Not yet shown the form in the individual matchplay championship that has been evident in the Doubles and the Club events over the past couple of seasons. Unlucky in the draw in 2010 running into, and losing to, the Planet Hastings pairing of McIver and Davies in subsequent rounds but took a couple of nice scalps in the 2011 event by beating Thomas in the group and Dennelly junior in the knockout phases. If the draw is kind Homer could make it through to the last 16. Either way, she will leave a lasting mark on the events this Sunday as she takes a decent photograph.

Adam Kelly (13) - 6th in 2010 (did not play in 2011). Made a major splash in the 2010 event when, having coasted through the first round, caused the biggest shock of the 2nd round by knocking out the pre-tournament favourite, Peter Emmerson. On a high from this victory Kelly then became the subject of another major shock when he got heavily beaten by the underdog junior Leo Kukielka in the quarter finals. Always a dangerous player and with a good knowledge of the course, Kelly the Younger should be right in the mix at the end of the day although will come into this event with a big target on his back as one of the favourites - time will tell if he can cope with the pressure of being one of the big guns.

Andy Exall (15) - 21st in 2010 and 6th in 2011 having won the title in 2009. Not yet repeated the highs of 2009 having been beaten in the first round in 2010 and then running into an in form Shepherd in the quarter finals last year. Knows Sidcup very well and always hard to beat. Surely 2012 is the time for Exall to live up to the hype and be pushing to take the title again?

Chris Smith (16) - 4th in 2011. Took the competition by surprise last year by making it through to the semi finals where he was dispatched by his own son. Came out of a tough group but had a fairly easy ride through to the semi's. Tied over 18 holes in the first match of the KMGC vs ROW against Homer so has some pedigree but can't see him making it as far this year (unless of course he lucks out and avoids all of the big guns until the semis - again!). 

Nick Sandqvist (19) - 5th in 2011. The BMGA's very own Swede cruised through the group stages beating Chapman comfortably in the process. Then beat him again in the round of 16 before being dispatched by Smith. If the Sandqvist that turned up at the British Championships arrives at the course on Sunday then he could go far. If the 'other' Nick turns up then he might fall at the group stages. It's an early start so the omens don't look good.

Seth Thomas (20) - 11th in 2011. Tied at the top of his group in his debut matchplay championship, even though he did get beaten by a lady in the process. Crashed out to Jones in the Round of 16, finishing the day off with a victory to show what could have been. But Sidcup has proven to be a strong hunting ground for Thomas (if you overlook his somewhat underwhelming British Open performance) culminating in his victory against the odds in the Kent Open, leaving all of Kents finest trailing in his wake. Could do well - in fact should do well - perhaps an outside bet for a top 4 finish on Sunday.

James Rutherford (23) - 15th in 2011. After strolling through an albeit pretty easy group, Ruthers was one of the pre-tournament favourites and expected to challenge for the title. However after running into and losing to an in form Homer in the round of 16 he then managed to lose his next 2 games aswell before finally showing the true form of the then British Champion by destroying junior Donnelly in the last game of the day. A great player with high expectations at Sidcup. Dissapointed in the British Open at the course last year but surely won't crash and burn again at this weekends Matchplay? Surely not...

Alan Norman (25) - 26th in 2010 (did not play in 2011). An underwhelming 2010 event for the man from London. Lost to Lancley, then lost to Johnson jr before beating a local novice and then a lady. Not the best or most impressive of records it has to be said. But Norman can sometimes produce rounds of extraordinary brilliance - usually prior to producing one of sheer averageness. A slow and deliberate player - this could unsettle the lesser lights on Sunday so could see Norman mirror his London team mate and go far in the event. Or possibly not.

Alex Pragnell (29) - 20th in 2011. The Enigma. It's anyones guess what Perfect Parr will do in the event on Sunday - for what it's worth I think we will see a better performance than in his matchplay debut although it will take a favourable draw to see Pragnell move into the top 16 shoot out. He got taken apart in the matchplay part of the Players Championship on the same course in 2011 and had a varied day at the recent KMGC v ROW event. One thing is certain though, Praggers will show his consistently inconsistent form but I predict that at some point he will take one MAJOR scalp in the event.

Will Donnelly (32) and David Donnelly (36) - 16th and 21st respectively in 2011. Significantly improved players a year on and very comfortable on the Explorers course. The younger D often eclipses the older D but I think the tables will turn in this years event due to Will's habit of paying more attention to what the other players are doing around him than concentrating on his own game. Dependant on the draw I could see both players making it through to the top 16 shootout but will be unceremonially dumped out of the event when faced with any of the top players.

Brenda Smith, Alastair Shaw, Freddie Blackburn Shaw - all making their BMC debut in 2012. Brenda got a taste of matchplay in the KMGC vs ROW event in March and has a strong coaching team behind her and had a decent showing at the British Championships this year. But unlikely to get out of her group in the top half. Team Shaw both played the course in the 2011 British Open and could see both taking a few wins this weekend. If it came to a head to head, Shaw the younger would have too much firepower for his dad to cope with so expect FBS to make the top 16 shootout.

Missing in action for 2012:

Chris Jones (6) - 16th in 2010 and 8th in 2011 and the former Masters champion was looking for a top 5 finish this year but unfortunately a late withdrawal from the 2012 event means that Shepherd remains Londons main hope for honours this year.

Richard Gottfried (9) - Runner up in 2010 and a broken man since losing in the final at Splash Point. Rumours of Police Academy 8 showing on ITV4+1 at the weekend put paid to any likely return for this years event.

Oliver Florence (10) - 11th in 2010 and 19th in 2011. Seems to prefer Worm Charming to minigolf these days so the sporting world will be denied the chance to witness the ongoing battle of supremacy between Praggers and the Machine. Shame indeed.

Chris Harding (14) - The Midlands maestro's reluctance to play on Kent turf means that his 9th place in 2010 having beaten the 2009 champion in the first round remains his highest honour in the Matchplay main event.

With the draw taking place on Saturday afternoon, the Putting Predictor may return with some group predictions (presuming the BMGA actually manage to upload the groups onto their website in time).

Until next time,