Dodd’s date with a birdie he can’t miss

Thetford's Lawrence Dodd came agonisingly close to making the cut in the final qualifying school for the 2011 European Tour, but still returned home a happy man – to get married.

Today, Dodd will tie the knot with Michelle Russell at St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmunds – and his caddy, Neil Goodchild, will swap his bib and bag for a suit and usher's duties.

'It will be a fantastic day,' said Goodchild. 'Michelle is absolutely beautiful and can hit a good golf ball!'

Unusually wintry weather meant that Dodd would return from Spain after four rounds – whether or not he made the cut for the final 36 holes. The first day's play at PGA Catalunya was delayed by heavy frost and the qualifying school extended by a day – to today.

For Dodd, there was no contest between golf and the course of true love – but some of his fellow professionals were astonished by his decision. Goodchild reports: 'With news spreading of the wedding on Friday many players on the range asked Dodd about his plans if he made the cut. When he replied that he would be going home it brought looks of shock to many faces – maybe they were the unmarried ones!'

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In the end, Dodd missed the cut by one tantalising shot after he finished on two-under par. Making the cut would have meant earning a full Challenge Tour card and a European Tour ranking, whether or not he played out the final two rounds of Q-school. However, he can look forward to about ten starts on the Challenge Tour and will also play on the Europro Tour.

He opened his account at qualifying school on the more scorable Tour course with a three-under 67 which left him four off the lead. His putter was in red hot form and was used only 23 times in a round which also included a chip-in birdie. However, his driving and iron play was slightly off the radar.

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Dodd's next two rounds were on the Stadium course, which is ranked the third best course in Europe and is both longer and tougher. The second round started in strong winds of 25mph on the undulating fairways and, with his driving and iron play still not at its best, the putter was once again called upon. A four-over round was a reasonable score factoring in Dodd's form and the difficulty of the course.

Overnight, Dodd realised his errant shots were caused by taking the club inside the line. He hit the range before the start of round three and, thanks to his straight driving and iron play, he carded a healthy one under par 71.

He returned to the Tour course to shoot a two-under 68, which included three birdies and an eagle on the front nine, offset by a double bogey and a bogey. The inward half yielded nine straight pars.

Afterwards, Dodd remarked: 'I'm looking forward to the wedding – and the new season.'

Dodd, who is sponsored by Bury St Edmunds based G Signs & Design and Hayden Environment Services, has won two professional titles this year and lost a third in a play-off.

In his amateur career he was an England international, helping to win the Home Internationals, and he won the Greek Amateur Championship by ten shots.

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