UA-33754892-1 Flory von Donck Challenge and Styrian Mountain Challenge | Jason Kelly Golf

Jason Kelly Golf

Jason's Blog

Flory von Donck Challenge and Styrian Mountain Challenge

To get to Ghent in Belgium is a surprisingly short journey. An hour and a half to Dover, ferry to Dunkirk then another hour from there. In Ghent we found a great little golf course. Royal Latem Golf Club is one of the ‘big 4’ Belgium golf clubs and features a short but brutally tight golf course. Each hole is framed by huge trees that have been maturing since the course was built in 1909.

belgium 6th
6th tee shot at Royal Latem. Tight course!

After Le Fonti I was in 7th on the Alps Tour Order of Merit. The top 7 on the 31st of August are exempt from the first stage of Tour School. It would be great if I could have a good week in Belgium and pretty much confirm my exemption. I arrived on the Tuesday and played the pro am on Wednesday. I had a great group for the pro am. Three members who were fantastic company and incredibly hospitable. I did not play particularly well but enjoyed the day and was pleased that the Ping Craz-e mid length putter that had been put in the bag seemed to be working.

The Latem course set up well for me. A big reward for straight hitting and the majority of holes set up well for a fade and I got off to the perfect start on day 1. I hit it close on the first and made birdie before topping it off the par 5 second into the hay before holing a 35 ft birdie putt! For the first 11 holes I played awful but kept scrambling well. I was one under par standing on tee 12, an easy par five and a chance to flatter the score. I hit two nice shots to 30 feet before three putting. That was a huge mistake. After working so hard to hang in there that really killed any momentum . I proceeded to three putt the next two for bogies. I topped another tee shot on 17 and made another bogey. A birdie on the 18th, the hardest hole on the course, gave me some hope for day 2.

belgium 16th
17th..... a top is not the ideal tee shot here!!

Day 2 started off as poorly as day 1 finished. I bogied 1, 2 and 4. I missed a 2ft birdie putt on 3 so don’t think that hole made me happy for a moment. Then I reset. I was not picking my shots so had no chance of executing them how I wanted to. I started to hit big fades on pretty much every shot. Instantly I started to create some chances. I missed short birdie putts on 6 and 7 before bogeying 9. Out in 40, not ideal!

The back 9 was better. I birdied 11, 16 and 18. I made an awful bogey on 17 where I missed from 3 feet. I ended up shooting 2 over for a 3 over total. Bad enough to miss the cut by 1. A seriously disappointing week as the course was perfect for me and it was an important week. I made a lot of middle distance putts but struggled with the short ones. The Craz-e putter took compulsory early retirement. The good news was the players around me in the Order of Merit did not do much. It was a missed cut that did not hurt me too much but it could have helped me a lot.

belgium mushroom
Not mush-room to play this shot on number 9!

Serge Platel, who I played with in the pro am, became a good friend as the week went on. He went out of his way to make sure we were looked after. Recommending restaurants, buying drinks and maybe most astonishingly he managed to supply us with fishing equipment for the weekend. His hospitality and generosity made it a fun week. The weekend’s fishing was as fruitful as the golf but a lot more enjoyable and relaxing. We had a beautiful river at the back of our hotel and hours just seemed to drift by. Ghent is a lovely part of Belgium. It has picture post card scenery combined with enormous wealth. The display of houses and cars in Ghent would rival even the wealthiest of areas and the atmosphere at the golf club made it one of the most welcoming I have been to. All in a good week despite a missed cut.

belgium fishing
Nice weekend off fishing in Belgium

A week off followed Belgium. It very nearly wasn’t a full week as I had left my passport in someone else’s car. I only realised this when I arrived to get on the train at Calais. At that point my passport was at Dunkirk! Fortunately I dealt with a sensible guy at passport control who checked the details I gave him and allowed me through. Not only that but he did not cancel my passport which would have been a costly inconvenience.

So a weeks practice before Austria. I did my research into the venue. It was 40 minutes outside of Graz right up in the mountains. In fact it was 800 meters above sea level and the forecast was for extremely hot weather. Sounded like a nice combination! Flights to Austria, be it Vienna or Graz, were ludicrously expensive. We ended up flying with Lufthansa to Munich before taking a propeller plane from there to Graz. The trip was surprisingly good despite having to do the connection thing which I usually detest.

On arrival it surpassed expectations. Yes it was very hot, yes it was at altitude and yes the course was very hilly but it was also a decent lay out in excellent condition. I had feared the worst in regard to the course but every course I have played in Austria has been presented beautifully.

austria village
The village we stayed in....beautiful place if not a little boring....

austria breakfast
....But always a nice view for breakfast

I chipped and putted a little on the Monday evening, played 11 holes on Tuesday and the pro am on the Wednesday. A nice way to build up and more preparation than I normally do. The pro am was nicely done with an evening of entertainment and a three course dinner. Whenever Lyoness sponsor an event the players get looked after extremely well. They do it properly.

As for me I was still 7th in the order of merit with this being the last event before the exemptions to second stage of European Tour School are given out. The top 7 earn the exemptions. I was €550 behind 6th, €1500 clear of 8th and €1750 clear of 9th. I had to have a good, solid week and I was playing ok.

Day one was hot. Around 35 degrees with no wind, high altitude and a tough walk up and down some serious slopes. My game was as up and down as the terrain. 5 birdies and 4 bogies saw me round in 70 (-1). Day two was much of the same, 4 birdies and 3 bogies for another 70 (-1). After two rounds I was in a tie for 16th, which was not too bad if it were not for 8th and 9th in the Order of Merit being in 4th and 5th position respectively . Fortunately the guy in 6th had missed the cut so he was catchable. I needed a good final round.

austria 2nd
2nd.... a nice par 3 with an extremely undulating green

austria 11th
11th.... very good par 3... 200 yards but plays 28 yards down hill

I had a great draw for the last day. I had played with Marco Crespi in the final round in Italy when I won. We played together again two weeks later when he won. It looked like a good omen to be paired together again even if we were too far back to have a legitimate chance to win. He is a great guy to play with as he is the straightest hitter I have ever seen. He starts 98% of his shots online and they just don’t move. When his short game is half acceptable he will contend, he is a machine. We had played the first two rounds together here, mirroring each other with 70’s both days. His perhaps a little more steady than mine!

So a big final day needed and it started well. I holed from 11ft at one for birdie. I then missed from 8ft at 2 for another but birdied 3,4 and 5 to get to four under for the day, six under for the tournament. I bogied the tricky par 3 6th and the 7th. The 7th is one of the easiest par 5’s I have played however I continued to make three sixes there! A birdie at nine took me out three under. An up and down nine holes that was nothing compared to the back 9!

austria 15th
15th....easy par 4.... 3 costly bogies for me!

I chipped in on the 10th for a birdie, missed a great chance from 5ft on the 11th but made up for it with a birdie at 12. Back to -4 for the day. A good approach to the island green 13th gave me another good chance. I rushed it by and missed the one on the way back - bogey. I eagled the par 5 14th, bogied the easy 15th (for the third time) and birdied the 18th.

R1

5

3
4
3
4
3
6
4
4
36
4
2
3
4
4
5
3
5
4
34
70

R2

5

3
4
3
4
4
6
4
4
37
4
2
3
2
5
5
3
4
5
33
70

R3

4

3
3
2
4
4
6
4
3
33
3
3
3
4
3
5
3
4
4
32
65


4 bogies, 8 birdies and an eagle on the final day. It added up to 65. It moved me up to 7th in the tournament and helped me finish in front of the two players who could have gone past me on the OOM. It was a big round at the right time. I ended up going forward on the OOM, up to 6th. It was a good week in the end. Obviously with so many errors there is that nagging sense that it should have been better but I came here to achieve something and I achieved it. So I can’t be too hard on myself.

Anyway I got a week off to work it out and get ready for Normandy. I am looking forward to that, I finished third there last year and the course sets up very well for me. A few less mistakes and who knows......

austria sunset
Bit cheesy but the sun did set on the Styrian Mountain Challenge ...... a good week.

blog comments powered by Disqus