Hunt masters high winds for triumph
Fraser Hunt and Ebonie Burgess overcame their opponents and winds gusting up to 45 knots to win the men's and women's titles at the Bermuda Amateur Match Play Championships at Mid Ocean Club on Saturday.
Hunt, who won the Amateur Stroke Play about a decade ago, clinched a first matchplay title when he beat Mid Ocean club-mate Ben Hodge 2 and 1, while Burgess ended a decade-long wait for her second matchplay title when she beat Linda Down quite comfortably 8 and 7.
It was a final of contrasts as Hunt and Burgess admitted that the second 18 holes in the afternoon provided them with a greater challenge.
“The winds, especially in the second 18, were pretty tough,” Hunt said. “Just maintaining your balance was quite a struggle, but the morning round wasn't too bad. Luckily, we stayed pretty dry.”
Hunt was five up after the first six holes and four up after 18, as he took early control. However, by the 34th hole, Hodge managed to pull it close at one down with two holes to play.
“Ben's a very solid player but got off to a bit of a slow start,” Hunt said. “Beyond that we held pretty steady and by the time we got to 27th, he narrowed it down to just one down.”
Fraser sunk a putt for par on the par-three 17th to seal the victory after both players used their drivers for tee shots into the wind.
“In those kind of conditions, you know you are going to make mistakes out there over 36 holes,” Hunt said. “We both played pretty steady and I managed to keep my lead in the second 18. He put some pressure on me in the back nine, but my game is suited for inclement weather. It is a match where you just wait for your opponents to make the mistakes. It was a game of patience.”
In morning conditions of 18 to 20 knots, Burgess took an early lead in the first 18 holes against Down and was never seriously threatened as she finished the first round seven up.
“In the second 18, the weather, more than anything, was an issue for me and wasn't comfortable at all,” said Burgess, who finished her match with several holes to spare.
“The intent was to go out [in second 18] and not give anything away. I'm a rhythm player, so trying to keep a rhythm with all that wind was tougher.
“It was beating us down on those first four holes, definitely. I went into the tournament wanting to win, so it was good to accomplish it.”
In the senior championship, Max Atherden beat Craig Christensen 5 and 4 in the 18-hole final.
In the consolation finals, Ian Page beat Geoffrey Piggott 3 and 2, Steven Hickmott took the seniors' title by the same scoreline over Bill Pitt and Susan Frith scored a comfortable 6 and 5 win over Shirley Higgins.