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The Trilby Tour sure aint pretty..

'Pretty' is one way to describe the landscape at Old Thorns in Hampshire, but it's not a great description of the atmosphere amongst today's assembled Trilby Tour players – 'ugly' is much nearer the mark.

Certainly the first dozen or so to tee off are in no mood for enjoying the scenery, or making new friends. With a light rain making it difficult for the Sky Sports cameramen to keep their lenses dry the starting packs set off at a furious pace, a pleasant saunter across the course is the last things on anyone's mind and it appears stragglers are not to be tolerated.

Trilby Tour Maestro William Hunt was in no-nonsense mode, as well, eliminated two late arriving competitors before 10AM. No amount of begging helped their case and they left, ashen-faced.

'It's something that hurts them more than it does me', said William, with a malevolent grin, 'this is a tournament with 1200 competitors and the same amount of caddies, we don't run it for the benefit or those who can't be bothered to make a deadline'.

One feeble excuse offered was 'I've locked my keys in the car' which invited the blunt response 'Well smash the window, then'.

Future Trilby Tour competitors be warned!

Old Thorns was designed by golf legend and club president Peter Alliss (who made a welcome appearance in the afternoon) and there are tricky little obstacles on every hole.

A small cluster of Scots Pine on the fairway of the 2nd proves an unavoidable early hazard for a few and there are fierce, divot-scooping swings being thrown before players even reach the 3rd.

By 11AM there was the first big news of the day – a hole in one! Returning Trilby Tourian Chris Gallagher sinks it on the 7th and word soon spreads around the entire course, causing hackles, if not games, to be raised.

Elsewhere, the moorhens sedately circling the water on the 8th are forced to duck for cover a few times as frustrated players try to force an extra few feet out of their drives.

The back nine holes twist and turn back around themselves and they aren't the only thing getting wound up as, by the midway point, it's becoming apparent who's making the grade and who's falling well behind.

A 'nervous' Ronan Malloy, for instance, is reported coming to the 18th with the worst score in Trilby Tour history, poor fella. Luckily he picks up a shot or two and finishes only joint worst player ever. So that's OK, then.

The terse nature of the play is exemplified by an early afternoon fairway drive on the 18th which is so manically over-hit that it thwacks against the clubhouse before ricocheting wildly through the hospitality area.

'I think he was trying to knock his own name off the leader board with that shot', quips Hunt to the crowd.

The sun made a welcome appearance in the afternoon but it wasn't enough to brighten the faces of many of the competitors.

By the 18th hole the better players were marching ahead, leaving the less successful players sauntering behind, contemplating the patronising back-slapping they will receive in the hospitality area.

One player, who is well in contention for the play-offs, apparently didn't speak to his fellow players for the final six holes and stood tapping his foot if they spent more than two seconds picking their clubs. There was much celebration and sniggering when he failed to make the cut.

Finally, only the best four made it to a tense, tight play off, during which one drive hit the water and another veered way off the fairway.

As always, only one player triumphed and as always we're not telling you who it was, you'll have to wait for the TV transmission to find out.

Adieu, Old Thorns, see you again next year.

Dave Lee



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