Golf: Failure to Putt Well Foils Vale Bid

The Birmingham Post (England), July 12, 2004 | Go to article overview

Golf: Failure to Putt Well Foils Vale Bid


Byline: Michael Blair Golf Correspondent At Troon -

Simon Vale will be back at his day job this morning, tiling bathrooms in the Midlands. His preferred occupation - tournament golf professional - remains in abeyance.

Vale took his chance in the Open Championship Final Qualifier at Irvine over the weekend and a right good stab he made at it. He was under par on 70 in his first round and he equalled the par of 71 with the aid of three birdies yesterday.

'I played really well,' he said. 'I didn't put a foot wrong on Saturday and made only a couple of mistakes in round two.' So why was he on the road home last night?

'I couldn't hole a putt,' he replied. 'That was as good as I've ever played in qualifying (he made it into the Open in 2001). But I couldn't put the ball in the hole. I lipped out five times in the last seven holes.'

Vale beat the scores of the 2003 Amateur champion, Gary Lockerbie, and the experienced Gordon Brand, who made up his threeball. And with just reasonable competence on the green, he reckons that he could have been nine under par.

But now he's back in Tamworth reflecting on a sagging career that is in urgent need of a boost.

'I need to find some money so that I can play a bit more,' he said. Making bathrooms look pretty keeps wolves from the door but it does not advance his golfing ambitions. A place in the line-up at Royal Troon on Thursday would have.

'It's just gut-wrenching,' said Vale of his missed opportunity. 'There's not a great deal of light at the end of the tunnel; I need a few breaks.'

Chris Evans, the young Warwickshire amateur who like Vale pre-qualified out of Little Aston, improved his first-round 73 at Irvine by a shot.

He had three birdies on the way out but four bogeys in all. Experience was the main point of Evans's mission and to that end he was well pleased. Rob Steele, his county colleague, may have felt the same about his scores of 75, 76.

Paul Williams, the Little Aston assistant, was another who was in the pot for the pleasure and, considering the number of golfers at the four venues who failed to break 80, his 76, 75 was a respectable return. …

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