The greens provided the biggest challenge for the players, mainly because the course features three different types of greens (those renovated last winter, those renovated 2 or 3 years ago and those which are yet to be renovated). Each type of green has a different speed and a different firmness than the other, and especially the more recently renovated greens provide huge difficulty when hitting approach shots. As an example, the 4th green is so firm that anything landing in the middle of the green will bounce and roll all the way off the left hand side of the green, and anything landing level with the flag will go over the back... so that actual target area on the green is a tiny area at the front right.
This challenge was reflected in the high scoring and the consequently high CBA (-3 for each round).
The event went extremely well for Kytäjä players with Andy Fowlie claiming a three shot victory over "player of the year" Mika Piltz with Niko Helin coming in 3rd place. For the second time this season (following Niko's excellent win in the Mid Tour matchplay championship), Kytäjä can celebrate having a winner on the Mid Tour!
Andy, in equal second place overnight, set up his win with an excellent front nine of 33 in the final round to lead by 4 shots, and had enough of a cushion over playing partner Mika Piltz to cope with a few late wobbles (two bogeys and a double in the last 5 holes).
T50 Kai Kurikka +24 (81-87)
T66 Jouko Hartikainen +28 (84-88)
MC Petri Syrjänen 93
Wow.... this is really a fantastic result for me. All year I have been playing pretty good golf and I have been having pretty good scores.... but my season was missing a win. I thought it would come last week on the Players Tour... but I messed up the last few holes and came 3rd, so this was the last chance. I knew that I was playing pretty well... and I also knew that the home advantage would be even bigger than usual due to the way the greens are playing but I had only played the NW course three times this year and I was worried that I would struggle just as badly as the others with the unpredictable greens.
On Saturday I played a round with a lot of good shots (leading to 5 birdies!) and a few careless errors (5 bogeys and a double) but my score of 74 was a pretty good one compared to the field and that left me in a tie for 2nd place and meant that I would play in the second last group on Sunday.
In the second round I was playing with Mika Piltz (the standout player of the year on the mid tour - three wins, a second and a third in the 5 events he played) for the first time and while I was really looking forward to that I was also concerned whether I would be able to relax and play my own game in his company, I have previously managed some high scores when playing with a very good player for the first time.
I was 2 ahead of Mika after the first round and I had the feeling that if I could stay ahead of him then I would have a very good chance to win. My two shot advantage lasted until the 3rd green... Mika started birdie par birdie... but after that I played as good golf as I have ever done for the next 10 holes, hitting a number of "perfect" shots and playing that stretch in 3 under par to open up a lead of 5 shots over Mika.
On the 14th I 3 putted from pretty short range for my first bogey of the day, missing my par putt from 60cm, and from then on I was very nervous. I made a careless bogey on 16 and a pretty untidy double bogey on 18... but luckily I was so far ahead that it really did not matter.
This was definitely the highlight of my season, and maybe the "best" win that I have ever had, especially because I was playing "head to head" with Mika Piltz, a matchup which nobody in their right mind would bet on me to win. I am really happy with my performance over the weekend and still can't quite believe that I managed to do it. I really enjoyed watching Mika play, his swing has a fantastic rhythm to it and I was trying to copy that rhythm during the round... hopefully I can still remember that rhythm for the weeks to come and try to build that into my own game.
My handicap came down to +1,1 as a result of the weekend scores... that is my lowest ever handicap and, while it has been my target to get to +1, I am not sure that I honestly believed that I could do it!