Double-winner Griggs passes really tough test

DANIEL GRIGGS has joined an illustrious club in becoming only the eighth player to win both the L’Ancresse Open Trophy and Scratch Salver in the same year.

On a day when the strong wind ensured quality ball striking would come to the fore and which saw ‘no returns’ for 26% of a bumper 176 entry, the island player showed his class with an outstanding level-par 70 gross, which edged out his Royal Guernsey colleague Emile Thompson for the big one on countback.

The only regret Griggs had while gleefully clutching the silverware on Saturday night was that he did not go lower.

‘Today I can’t remember missing a single fairway, I can’t remember standing over a ball – apart from on the putting green – where I thought this isn’t going straight down the middle or this isn’t going straight at the flag.

‘It’s just one of those things, it happens probably once a year.

‘I just wish it was a 36-hole event because when I finished and I had done a 70, I thought “I’ve left about five shots out there”, I really did.’

While virtually the whole field approached their opening tee shot into the teeth of the wind with a certain amount of dread, Griggs thrived in the conditions and knew he was capable of posting a good score from his early start time alongside Laurence Graham Jr and John Goodall.

‘When I stood on the first tee, I thought to myself “right, I’m going to set my target of scoring 70 today” – that’s what I thought I could score and I did, but I was actually two under after four,’ said Griggs, who made back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth holes.

‘Then on the fifth, I absolutely smoked my driver and it was into the wind and I had a choice of a seven or eight iron. I thought “I’m fed up with being short on this hole” because I always misjudge it, so I hit seven.

‘Of course, it’s criminal to go over the back of the fifth and it was going straight at the pin. My partners were saying “great shot” and my eyesight is not that great so I assumed it was and Laurence Graham said “I didn’t see that pitch, it might have pitched straight in the hole”, so I thought “great”.

‘We walked up to the green and it wasn’t in the hole. It had “airmailed” over the back of the green and that was my bogey on the front nine – that really upset me actually and that’s why I hit this big drive down the sixth, because I vented all my anger on the sixth, but then messed up my second shot.’

That messed up second at the sixth – his worst swing of the day from a hanging lie in the middle of the fairway – led to a double-bogey seven.

He was not to drop another shot until the last, though, with further birdies coming at 13 and 14.

‘The back nine was just solid. The 18th I hate playing downwind because you just don’t get through the shot. You sort of lob it in the air and hope the wind takes it. I hit it about 50ft left and three putted.

‘But it was the most stress-free round from the seventh I think I’ve had since I’ve been on Guernsey. It was just one of those days when you just stand over the ball and don’t worry about the wind or anything, just which club you’re going to hit.’

However, he did admit that one problem he encountered was his cap constantly blowing off in the wind, which almost led to a drastic course of action.

‘It never hit the ball, but we were having a discussion about the rule if my cap hit the ball and I thought about putting my hair in a ponytail through the gap in the back to try to keep it on, but then I thought if anyone sees me like that, I might regret it,’ said Griggs with a smile before summing up his emotions.

‘The L’Ancresse Open, everyone looks forward to it because it’s a great event and L’Ancresse is a great golf club, I love the people here, they’re a great laugh and I’m as thrilled to win this as anything.

‘The one thing I forgot to say in my speech was if I wasn’t going to win the Island Championship, the one person I wanted to win was Tom Le Huray and he did, and I was thrilled to bits for him.

‘It’s been a good week, him winning that and me winning this.’

Runner-up Thompson, who managed to go out in 35 gross before returning in 39, gave the winner some of the credit for his own performance having set the standard in the clubhouse after being in the first three-ball out at 7am.

‘I was caddying for him in the Scratch League in similar windy conditions a few weeks ago, so I learnt a few things off the winner,’ said the 31-year-old, who added that his round was up there with playing in a winning Inter-Insular side at La Moye, winning the Swinburne Cup and coming runner-up in the Tradesmen’s Cup as career highlights.

‘It was tough out there – I was not expecting that, so turning up in just shorts and a shirt was not the right choice.

‘It was all about keeping the ball in play and I have not played many competitions this year, so it was just nice to be out there.

‘I only really had three mistakes all round, so it was quite pleasing and I knew it [70 nett] would be up there, but was not expecting it to be joint best of the day.’

Host club member Mike Hamon completed the top three, one shot back from the winner, while the next three prize winners off handicap – Stuart Davidson, Curtis Le Noury and Tom Pattimore – all returned 72 nett.

New Island champion Tom Le Huray maintained his excellent form to put up an excellent defence of the Scratch Salver he won last year, finishing as runner-up this time thanks to a 72 gross.

His Guernsey teammates Jamie Blondel, Steve Mahy and Bobby Eggo completed the top five in the scratch standings.

Full results to follow

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