It was a case of so nearly being the perfect send-off for our long term Cornish stalwart Joe Cruse, as yesterday he was within touching distance of becoming England Golf Men’s County Champion of Champions event played over 36 holes at the National Headquarters in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire.
Joe, the reigning and two time Cornwall Amateur Champion, playing in what may be his last event as an amateur before turning Professional next month, was beaten at the fourth hole of a sudden-death play-off by Essex golfer Curtis Knipes.
Joe compiled a morning one over par 74 over the prestigious Hotchkin Course to lie in 4th spot at the halfway point. In round two he moved up the leaderboard with a joint best score of one under 72 and at various points during the afternoon led the field of champions from across the country. His level par back 9 saw him finish in joint 1st position on a level par overall total matched by two others, Knipes, who had holed a six-footer on the 36th hole of regulation play and Olly Huggins (BB&O) who had a double bogey on his last hole. All of this meant there would be a 3 man play-off.
All three parred the first extra hole, but Huggins dropped out at the next – the 18th – when he couldn’t match the birdies of his two rivals. Knipes and Joe returned to the 1st which they both birdied, from 30ft and 12ft respectively. Once again they teed up on the 18th and Knipes again birdied the hole, getting up and down from a greenside bunker for victory.
Joe in his own inimitable style remained upbeat saying “I couldn’t quite manage the win on my last outing for the Cornwall Golf Union as an amateur. Losing out on the 4th playoff hole in the English Champion of Champions was of course disappointing but I had great support from my caddie Steph (Curnoe) and am also very thankful for the many messages of support I received throughout. Obviously I have really enjoyed my time representing Cornwall and will miss the opportunity to continue doing so but it is time for me to move on and open the new chapter.”
Joe's last month as an amateur has been a very good one though. He was part of the Cornwall team which gained a half away against Devon a week ago and at the start of the month he claimed both the Goodman Trophy (nett) and the Rachel Biddle Cup (gross) as we have reported earlier. And yesterday afternoon social media network Twitter was awash with interest updates and support for Joe.
Joe will be missed very much within the amateur ranks. Hugely popular and with a very attractive laidback style which beautifully disguises his steely competitive determination, he has represented both club and county with distinction. County Captain Ian Veale said "We will obviously miss Joe enormously. He has been a much loved character in the county set up for many years and having him in my team has been an absolute pleasure. At inter-county level you would be forgiven for putting a point against his name whenever he sets out. I am still hoping beyond hope that I might be able to use Joe one more time in our final Channel League match in a fortnight's time. To be able to do so at Perranporth with the team present would be wonderful but we will have to wait and see. It has been a pleasure to play alongside him, partner and skipper him. We all wish 'Cruser' the very best."