Ozard captures first 'major' Jersey Golf crown

Josh Ozard Picture: DAVID FERGUSON

FIRST time winner of Jersey Golf’s Men’s Strokeplay Championship Josh Ozard had to do it the hard way, edging past both Sam Quail and Matthew Parkman by a solitary stroke over 72 holes of gruelling golf at Royal Jersey.

The 2023 order of merit winner managed to brush aside close calls at both the La Moye Salver and St Clement’s Open earlier this year, to capture his first ‘major’ of Jersey Golf.

It is as much a mental test as it is physical, in a bid to remain steady over 72 holes across three days, and many would agree the strokeplay championship is the hardest event to capture in Island Golf.

The Royal Jersey member shot rounds of 70, 72, 71 and 77 to close out the win around a par 70 Royal Jersey golf course that harboured the most brutal rough the rugged links has seen in recent memory.

“I really wanted to win one of the big events this year,” said Ozard.

“It felt like the next step for me. I had a really solid year last season, but I was still missing one of the bigger titles in Jersey Golf, so I’m really proud to have got over the line.

“I have had a couple of disappointing finishes already this year, where I feel like I should have won, so naturally there is pressure you put on yourself to get a victory and the longer that goes on for, the harder it becomes to do.”

The 2023 Island Games player’s game is underpinned by outstanding accuracy off the tee, while still boasting one of the best short games in Jersey golf, which was called upon during the final day of play.

“I only hit three fairways in the third round,” the Royal Jersey member added.

“It didn’t feel like my swing was there and it was a massive battle to hang in there.

“Fortunately, I chipped and putted really well and still managed to shoot a low score.”

Following a third round 71, Ozard had leapt past overnight leader Sam Quail, who followed rounds of 70 and 71 with a 78.

Meanwhile, Island golf stalwart Matthew Parkman was staking his own claim to retain the crown, closing the gap to Ozard to just four with a tournament low 68 (two-under) in round three, after scores of 75 and 74 on the first two days of play.

With a four-shot lead heading into the final round, Ozard knew he had some breathing room, but a double bogey seven at the benign par-five first was far from the ideal start.

He continued: “It came out of nowhere really. I thought I had found the green and it ended up in the bunker and just like that I had dropped a couple shots.

“But I bounced back with a birdie at the second and I think that was really important just to settle my nerves and focus.

“It wasn’t my best round by any means, but when the course is playing that difficult, it was more about being sensible and playing within myself to keep the lead.

“Sometimes it can be hard to focus on your own score when there are people chasing you down. There are a lot of momentum swings during the course of 18 holes and it just becomes a battle with yourself to focus on what you are doing and what you can control.

“I had done the hard work for the first three rounds, and I was really happy with that as the course was playing so tough.

“There are a lot of great players on the Island, so to win a competition like this is a special feeling.”

Quail would bounce back with an impressive 72 in the final round to push Ozard the entire way, including an agonising birdie putt at the 72nd hole that defied gravity to lip out to the astonishment of Quail and the crowd of spectators.

Parkman also rounded off with a strong final day, adding a 74 to his third round 68 to also finish just one back.

Steven Anderson entered the final day just a shot behind Quail, tied with Ozard, but a disappointing 81 in the third round derailed his chances of recapturing the crown he won in 2016.

A final round 70 (even par) would leave the Royal Jersey member three shots back of Ozard.

Alex Guelpa rounded out the top five just one shot adrift of Anderson on a leaderboard which featured a clean sweep of Royal Jersey members in the top seven.

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