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Kemp Canters to Victory at English Senior Men’s Stroke Play

Woburn’s John Kemp

Woburn’s John Kemp crowned his sterling performance with a triumphant win at the English Senior Men’s Stroke Play Championship held at Gog Magog. Kemp, the only player to finish under-par, clinched the title with a final round of level-par, securing victory by four shots over his closest competitor, Rupert Kellock of Sunningdale.

Reflecting on his win, Kemp shared, “It feels great. I won the Logan Trophy before and that was really difficult to win, and I missed the cut for this last year coming off an injury so to win it is fantastic.”

Kemp’s strategy was clear and focused: “I wanted to try and keep under-par for the final round. If I could do that I knew the guys chasing would have a hard job.”

“I didn’t realise it was going to be so windy so I did well to dig in. I was just trying to stick to my game plan and once I got out in 2-under, thanks to the long birdie putt on 9, it really got my momentum going.”

When asked about his celebration plans, Kemp added with a smile, “My wife and I are off to Luxembourg for the European Senior Amateur but we’re going to have a night of celebration at Le Touquet on Sunday first!”

Both Kemp and Kellock demonstrated exceptional form with brilliant second rounds of -4 (66) at Gog Magog on Thursday, putting them in a tie for the lead heading into the final day.

Andrew Smith from Royal Ashdown Forest and Nick Bell from Stoneyholme also shot impressive -3 (67) rounds on day two, leaving them just a shot back.

All four players had started with a 73 at Saffron Walden on the opening day, although Bell stole the spotlight with a phenomenal run of -8 through eight holes, which included back-to-back eagles and a hole-in-one.

However, the final day saw early challenges for Bell and Smith, while Danny Holmes from Rochester & Cobham started brightly with birdies on 2 and 4.

Following bogeys from Kemp and Kellock, Holmes moved within two shots of the lead. Richard Jones from Lindrick, Ian Ashenden from China Fleet, and 2023 Senior Men’s Amateur Championship winner Stephen Creed from Stratford-on-Avon also made significant charges up the leaderboard.

Creed, in particular, made a strong push with four birdies, but all found the final stretch tough as they dropped crucial shots.

The climax of the tournament came down to a duel between Kemp and Kellock.

Both holed birdie putts on the 9th, but Kellock faltered on the back-nine with several dropped shots, allowing Kemp to maintain his composure and finish with a level-par round.

Kemp concluded the tournament at -3 overall, four shots ahead of Kellock, who secured second place. Jones completed the top three, finishing at +3.

Elsewhere, Woburn’s Brendon Moss delivered a spectacular front-nine, scoring three twos in his nine-hole score of 30 (-5).

Despite two more birdies on the back-nine, a double bogey on the last hole saw him finish -4 for the day and +8 overall.

Steve Sansome from Birstall also broke par on the final day with an impressive -3, propelling him to a fourth-place finish.

Ronnie Clark, last year’s champion from Scotland, celebrated his eighth career ace, only his second in competition.

Clark recounted his hole-in-one, “I hit a 6-iron and thought it jumped out the back but it turned out that it pitched nine inches short and went in!

It wasn’t the best title defense but it was nice to get my first competition hole-in-one in nearly 20 years.”

Kemp was the leading player aged 55-59, while Kellock took home the award for top player aged 60-64.

Welshman Nigel Evans from St Mellion edged out Pyecombe’s Martin Galway on countback to win the award for top player aged 65-plus.

This year’s English Senior Men’s Stroke Play Championship at Gog Magog showcased the resilience, skill, and sportsmanship of senior golfers, with John Kemp’s performance standing out as a testament to his dedication and tenacity. For the complete final leaderboards, be sure to check them out here.