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Quirk and Ford come out tops in Club Champs

by | May 17, 2021

ACCOUNTANT-in-the-making Darren Quirk got his numbers spot on, and it was pocket rocket Cara Ford’s turn to beat her arch-rival and friend Kim Turgut and pick up the women’s A-Division win in the Randpark Club Championships held at the weekend.

“I was so nervous I couldn’t breathe coming down the 18th, as there was only one shot separating myself and David Ryan” said 23-year-old Quirk who closed with a fine two-under-par 70 on Firethorn in Sunday’s second and final round. Half-a-dozen players were in contention with nine holes to go but the fate of the 2021 Club Championships came down to a 10-foot putt holed on the last hole by Darren.

But the UNISA student used a hot putter to break out of the pack. He made crucial up-and-downs to save par at 16 and 17, and then hit the green in two off the backmarkers at the demanding 464m par-4 18th and two-putted to post a one-under-par 143 aggregate.

Day one saw Quirk shoot 73 on Bushwillow, when his putter wasn’t as hot, yet he ultimately won the A-Division by one shot from up-and-coming David Ryan (72-72), Carl Mwale (72-74) was third, with Jared Botha, Thomas Ryan and Christian MacGregor next best on 148, with overnight leader on 70, Gary Baynham, slipping to a 79 to finish on 149.

“Conditions weren’t easy in round two because we played in a tricky wind and there were some tough pin placements. I putted well though and picked up shots at the third and sixth holes, and then went on a birdie run at 9, 10, 11 and 12,” said Quirk. “I did bogey 13 and 14 but managed to hold on after that. In the end my putting was the key.”

The trainee numbers man, who works part-time at a vet to keep himself in golf, has entered four GolfRSA events this year, making three cuts out of four and is clearly going places with his handicap index plus 2.1. He paid tribute to the course staff: “Condition-wise, the fairways and greens were amazing,” he said.

The women played round one on Firethorn and 19-year-old Ford, who plays off a 2.5 handicap index, carded a 76 to put her alongside Turgut on that same score. On Bushwillow in round two Cara dropped at the first hole and then made double-bogey six at No 2. “So that was a bad start but I bounced back by hitting drive, six-iron to within a meter and a half from the cup at the par-5 third,” she explained. “I just missed the eagle putt but made a tap-in birdie and also picked up a shot at the sixth with a two there. I dropped at eight to be out in 38 then played ‘boring golf’ – lots of fairways and greens – to be home in level-par 36 for a round of 74. Her 150 total saw her edge out runner-up Turgut by two.

“Last year Kim beat me by one for the title and in 2019 I beat her by one to win the Club Champs. So it’s always close between us. This year was my turn though. We’re good friends but fierce rivals on the golf course,” added Ford who represents Ladies Golf Gauteng at inter-provincial level and is ranked 13th in the country. She wants to one day turn professional but plans to keep playing amateur golf for a good while still and in this year’s second semester will start studying for a degree in criminology.

There was a buzz at Randpark all weekend what with the players and their supporters out in force, the courses in fine shape and a festive atmosphere in the clubhouse surrounds. Club CEO Francois Swart was “delighted” to reveal that no less than 448 players took part in the golf, which raises the question as to whether this could be a South African record for a club championship. The men’s C-Division attracted a mammoth 225 entrants. Golf booming at Randpark? You bet.

Written by Randpark member Grant Winter.

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