Beko Classic – Final Round
PHIL GOLDING and CARL SUNESON found themselves embroiled in what proved to be a slow-death play-off on Antalya’s PGA-branded
From there, tied on 13-under, head-to-head, they went for the top prize of US$8,000 from the US$80,000 prize fund. And what a shoot-out it proved to be ! The so-called ‘sudden-death’ play-off took three attempts of their going back and forth up that decisive final hole. Sultan course after the former stormed in with a phenomenal 63 and Carl Suneson leaked the shot he needed at the 18th for an outright victory.
First it was for a birdie-birdie half, then for a par-par version and finally, as Suneson leaked a shot again at his troublesome par-four to complete a double-jinx, Golding’s par prevailed.
The former European Tour winner’s fabulous, unblemished 63 comprising ten pars and eight birdies, was topped and tailed in true pro style with three birdies in the opening four holes and two in the final three. At 49 years of age he is clearly well prepared for the European Seniors Tour in 2012, via an exemption earned with his past victory in the French Open when he beat David Howell into runners-up spot.
In contrast, after setting off with his meagre one stroke overnight lead on the field, Suneson was unable to keep his scoring consistency together in matching fashion. His seven birdie haul was undermined by four dropped shots, the most costly being on that final green when a par would have kept his nose in front.
Behind them, thirty-five-year-old Benn Barham, joint third alongside Iain Pyman, continued to earn the admiration of all for the courage of his return to competitive golf following surgery. This involved the removal of a kidney in 2010, just when he was striving to establish himself on the European Tour.
Judging by his recurring excellent form the cancer nightmare is thankfully behind him though he hasn’t forgotten the trauma…he now contributes a pound, for every birdie he scores, to a hospice for terminally ill children in Kent, UK.
This means that from his Beko performance the charity that must be very close to his heart will benefit from an additional £14 towards his total ‘birdies-for-the-sick-kids’ donation as he added four more to the ten carded in the opening two rounds with a final round 68 for an eleven-under score overall.
With its strong and experienced field featuring European and Challenge Tour players, the eleventh Beko international Pro-Am staged under PGAs of Europe endorsement saw 16 players finish below par for the 54 holes as the event goes from strength to strength.
Beko Classic – Round 2
Carl Suneson, a former leading English amateur, with a Scandinavian father, who was born in Spain of an English mother, and became an international golfer, scored a magnificent five-under-par 66 on the demanding Sultan course at Antalya, Turkey, to lead the Beko Classic by one stroke going into the final round.
With a crushing birdie burst of four in succession from the thirteenth to the 16th, he stole his slender advantage over Iain Pyman whose three-under-par 68 for a 134 total and nine under par was as entertaining as it was effective.
The thirty-eight-year-old Pyman, like Suneson a former leading English amateur has spent several years since he turned pro in 1994 on the European Tour without being able to hold on to his precious card consistently but with eight events to his name he has won more times on the Challenge Tour than any other player.
Amid all that experience, however, that can have been few rounds to compare with this nerve-shredding roller coaster ride that reached its high point with a hole-in-one at the 174-yard par-three 17th, his second eagle in 18 holes that packed highs and lows in equal measure.
After parring the first two holes and carding a three on the par five third he dropped shots at the fourth, ninth, 10th and 12th, relieved only by a birdie at the seventh, to be heading for a disappointing one over. But the twist was in the tale…a birdie four at the 16th followed by his ace at the penultimate holed hauled him back to runners-up place.
Although the switch from the slightly less demanding Pasha course to the PGA-branded Sultan threatened to calm down the sub-par pattern of the first round the quality of the golf remained impressively high as the on-going fine weather continued to make conditions well-nigh perfect.
The Sultan features a dozen water hazards along with nearly a hundred sand traps some of them of the worrisome pot-bunker style, to be avoided at all costs. Confronted by the demanding nature of the course, the field was expected to spread more widely than on day one yet the challengers continued to queue up with only five shots separating the top dozen.
Presenting possibly the strongest-ever line-up of its eleven-year existence, and offering a £80,000 prize fund, one-tenth of that for the winner, the Beko Classic 2011 was quickly living up to its reputation as a PGA of Europe-endorsed international pro-am to be savoured by the parade of professionals and their three-man amateur teams.
Just one shot further back from the front two were Benn Barham and former winner Jamie Little. Barham shot 69 for his eight-under 36 holes while Little, the overnight leader carded a 70 to settle in at joint third.
One of the most disappointed players of the day must have been the Turkish-born, Germany-based Erol Simsek, a Beko winner a full decade ago who slipped down the leader board with a three-over-par 74.
Beko Classic – Round 1
Former winner Jamie Little set himself up for a possible second helping of Beko Classic Pro-Am success in Antalya, Turkey with an eight-hole flourish mid-way through his opening round that took him into the lead, by one stroke, on seven under par.
Little’s smoothly accomplished first round 65 featured six birdies and one eagle between the sixth and thirteenth holes, an inspired run that was undermined just a touch by a dropped shot at the par-four ninth.
His eagle three, before parring his way in over the closing stretch, was to complete a target score that was just beyond the reach of a whole parade of experienced and talented challengers, including another past winner Erol Simsek.
Nicely in position to set out for the second of the three rounds a mere stroke behind Little will be Iain Pyman and Ben Barham, both on six-under 66. Barham, who his courageously re-building his game after recovering from cancer surgery, followed a similar route to Little with five successive birdies between the 6th and 10th and another at 13.
With no dropped shots throughout his round it was an immaculate display of shot-making and putting by Barham with only that decisive eagle by the pacemaker preventing him from sharing the lead.
Clearly the sequence of holes on each side of the turn provided welcome opportunities to harvest a birdie haul as Pyman confirmed by helping himself to four on the trot from the 9th.
Pyman, like Little found the second hole to be a testing par three, both of them shedding shots there while the former stormed into his top three place with birdies at the final two holes.
With such talented, battle hardened contenders as Carlos Rodiles, Carl Suneson, James Heath, Simon Edwards and many more snapping at the heels of the leaders over the final 36-holes a lively tussle for top prize is assured.
Beko Classic – Preview
The Beko Classic Pro-Am tees off its second decade under the endorsement of the PGAs of Europe with a field of champions that collectively boasts Ryder Cup appearances, 14 victories on the European Tour and 25 on the Challenge Tour along with a multitude of other titles around the membership.
Turkey’s ground-breaking and longest-lasting international golf tournament takes place at Antalya on November 17/19 on the Sultan and Pasha courses with a profile and status way beyond expectations when it was first staged under the umbrella of the PGAs of Europe at Kemer G&CC, in the Autumn of 2001.
A tournament that subsequently moved from Istanbul to the thriving golfing territory in the south of the country, has run concurrently with the growing popularity of the sport in Turkey over the last ten years or so, and continues to attract a large field of PGA professionals and their three-man amateur teams.
A new name on the start sheet this year will be Northern Ireland’s Ronan Rafferty who won titles around the world along with many on the European Tour at the height of his career until a serious wrist injury ended his days at the pinnacle of golf. He joins Steve Richardson as one of two Ryder Cup men in the field.
Raymond Russell defends the title he won in 2010 as one of several past winners including Erol Simsek, Simon Edwards, who played in the 2011 Open Championship at Sandwich, Senol Bay , Peter Scott, Jon Bevan and Jamie Little.
Scot Russell has already fired a warning salvo to the field that he’s in both the mood and the form to make a dogged defence of the Beko by means of a tie for third place in the recent Roma Open at Ogliata, Italy, with a score of ten under par.
Among the many deeply experienced tournament players at Antalya will be Spain’s Carlos Rodiles
who has spent more than a decade on the European Tour and Challenge Tour, having won the European Tour Qualifying School five years ago when he tied with Alexandre Rocha for first place.
In 2003 Rodiles finished 24th on the European Tour Order of Merit, losing a play-off for the Volvo Masters Andalucia to Fredrik Jacobson at the end of what was for him a highly successful season.
The Beko Classic 2011 also provides the UK European and Challenge Tour player, Benn Barham with an excellent opportunity to continue his courageous campaign to return to full form and fitness following cancer surgery early this year.