Trophy joy for Ashton-on-Mersey duo

allididswinners.jpgPRIZE GUYS: Didsbury Captain-Elect Billy Wells shows off the trophy to the winners Ollie Smith (right) and Steve McDermott

ASHTON-ON-MERSEY assistant professional Ollie Smith and his amateur partner and clubmate  Steve McDermott won the Manchester Alliance Bert Thompson Trophy as they racked up 44 points to claim their second successive victory  following  success in the Robert Wax Cup at Marple two weeks earlier.

Styal duo Alistair Waddell and Charles Herbert were two points adrift but one ahead of Swinton Park’s Ben Chambers and Max Baxendale.

Top am-am pair were Ellesmere’s John Kilner and Tony O’Mara with 41 points, three clear of Swinton Park’s Marcus Corfield and Dave Smith who won countback former European  Tour player Denis Durnian and Chorley clubmate Keith Liddle.

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Emma gets chance to reign in Spain

CHESHIRE star Emma Goddard is one of two promising professionals who will tee up in Ladies European Tour events thanks to invitations from England Golf.

She and Northamptonshire’s  Meghan MacLaren , both England internationals in their amateur days, have been given places in this week’s Spanish Open and the French Open, from October 5-8. It’s part of England Golf’s strategy to support former amateurs.

Goddard, who represents Royal Liverpool, will start her campaign on the Costa del Sol on Thursday and said: “To receive the

Emma-Goddard.jpginvitation from England Golf was amazing. It allows me to test myself against the best in Europe again to see how far my game has improved this season.”

Her game is in great shape. Goddard, 26, has won on the LET Access Series this year and she is sixth on the order of merit, challenging strongly for one of the five full LET cards on offer at the end of the season.

“Getting my LET card back has been the main target this year and to have a chance of achieving that with two events left is exciting. All the hard work is paying off.”

Her performance this week won’t count toward the Access Series order of merit but it will sharpen her game for the end of season finale after a break of a few weeks since her last event.

The Access Series concludes with next week’s WPGA International Challenge at

Stoke by Nayland, Essex; and the Santander Golf Tour LETAS El Saler, near Valencia in Spain, from 25-27 October.

“I just want to thank England Golf for everything they have done for me. I turned professional three years ago and still worked full time up until April this year so I hope I can take this opportunity – or unfortunately I’ll be returning to work in November!”

Meghan MacLaren, from Wellingborough, turned professional a year ago after an outstanding amateur career which included an individual win in the British stroke play and team wins for England in the European championships and for GB&I in the Curtis Cup.

Road to Open a big hit with local clubs

Staining Road to The Open1.jpgThe Road to the Open campaign was popular with members at Staining Lodge

MORE than 500 would-be golfers enjoyed a taste of the sport thanks to a special Road to the Open campaign.

Lancashire clubs used the visit of the Open Championship to Royal Birkdale as a springboard to growing the sport.

With the world’s best golfers in Southport to compete for the Claret Jug, public interest in the game was at a high – with clubs keen to show the range of opportunities available across the county to give golf a go.

A Road to The Open campaign was organised by England Golf, the Professional Golfers’ Association and the Golf Foundation with a range of activities to promote golf in schools, the local community and clubs.

It was supported by the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs and the Lancashire County Ladies Golf Association while Open organisers, the R&A, provided additional funding for schemes in the county.

One of the clubs to take advantage of the funding available to support Get into golf activity was Staining Lodge, at Blackpool.

They staged a week-long Road to the Open golf festival, including free taster sessions for beginners of all ages, fun competitions including five holes followed by a cream tea, a Tri-Golf schools festival and a Glow Golf night-time event.

Both existing members and new faces to the clubs got involved – with a group of 17 also enjoying a trip to the Open for the final practice day. Follow-up coaching sessions are now being provided by the club.

England Golf regional manager Jason Budd said: “It was fantastic to see clubs across Lancashire taking on the challenge – and opportunities – provided by the world’s best golfers being on our doorstep.

“It was golf’s Olympic moment and it was great that those people reading about the championships or watching could find an opportunity to give the sport a go for themselves.

“Golf offers so many social and health benefits and now clubs are providing follow-up coaching for those who have got involved, which provides an easy pathway into the sport for those who may have felt daunted about giving it a go in the past.”

Other clubs to get involved in the project included Accrington, Aintree Grand National, Blackley, Burnley, Fleetwood, Formby Hall Golf Resort and Spa, Haydock Park, Lancaster, Lee Park, Longridge, Myerscough, Mytton Fold, Oldham, Rossendale, Southport Old Links, and Stand.

Get into golf is a national campaign to inspire adults to take up the game and is run by the England Golf Partnership through its network of County Golf Development Groups, supported by Sport England and National Lottery funding.

Get into golf opportunities include FREE taster sessions and low-cost beginner courses with PGA professionals. They are a fun and sociable way to start golf – and a great way to make new friends.

To find your nearest centre visit getintogolf.org and look at the activity map or call 0800 118 2766

You can follow Get into golf on Twitter twitter.com/getintogolf or on Facebook at facebook.com/Getintogolf

Just champion! That’s Accrington’s Foster

ACCRINGTON legend  Trevor Foster went on a victory march today to win the English Senior Men’s County Champion of Champions tournament at Woodhall Spa.

Foster was eight under par for 36 holes, after yesterday’s two-under 71 and today’s

foster (1).jpg67 on the Hotchkin course. He finished eight shots clear of his closest challenger, David Nelson of Cheshire.

He was a man on a mission because his season’s results had seen him fall just short of a place in the England senior team and he wanted to use his last event of the season to show what he could do.

Foster, 57, has already had a remarkable golfing career, including 108 appearances for Lancashire; two men’s county championships and now the senior men’s titleholder. He played all four rounds of The Open in 1988, when his caddy was 14-year-old Ryan Done, now the PGA professional at Heysham and Foster’s coach.

But he’s got that one ambition left, to represent his country. “My daughter, Nikki, played in four Home Internationals and she gives me a little nudge, saying I haven’t played for England yet! It would be nice, it would finish my career off. Hopefully next year it will be a dream come true.”

For the time being he has the satisfaction of two great days of golf. “It has given me so much pleasure out there today to hit every fairway and to hit 17 greens in regulation,” he said.

His first round gave him a one-shot lead over Hampshire’s Richard Elmes (Stoneham) with David Nelson (Northenden) and NAPGC/Worcestershire’s Steve Green (Rose Hill) a further stroke back.

But today Foster put his foot down and simply powered away from the field. He was four under on the front nine, then added two more birdies on 13 and 14 before dropping his only stroke of the day on the 17th, where he found a fairway bunker. However, he immediately repaired the damage with a pitch and putt birdie on the last.

“I’ve been fully-focussed, I’ve been 100 per cent satisfied before I hit any shots,” said Foster, who was supported by his caddy and Lancashire team mate, Bill Bromilow.

He also reaped the benefit of a recent lesson with putting guru Mike Kanski, provided by the Lancashire Golf Union. “I’ve struggled with my putting all year, which has cost me,” said Foster. “I’ve got to thank Lancashire because they’ve backed me all the way and asked me to have a lesson on my putting.”

GB&I power to the PGA Cup success

PGA CUP.jpg

CHAMPIONS AGAIN! The GB&I team beat the United Sates at Foxhills

IT would have come as no surprise had the brass band that serenaded the victorious Great Britain and Ireland team during the PGA Cup’s closing ceremony blasted out a few bars of Scotland the Brave.

In defeating the USA 16-10 to register back-to-back victories for the first time since 1984, a trio of Scots played influential roles at Foxhills Resort, Surrey.

Greig Hutcheon, an Aberdonian, holed the match-winning putt after Glasgow’s Chris Currie had staged a stirring recovery to halve the match that retained the trophy.

Masterminding the triumph, meanwhile, and pulling the string behind the scenes was Albert MacKenzie, another son of Aberdeen.

Inevitably, MacKenzie made it clear the success was not solely down to his compatriots.

“It was all about being a team effort, there was no individual glory here,” he insisted.

And he was right.

Every member of his 10-strong team, vice-captains Cameron Clark and Martyn Thompson and numerous backstage staff, played their parts in what turned out to be a comprehensive victory.

That appeared an unlikely scenario after the USA won Saturday’s foursomes 3 and 1 to go into the singles a point adrift of their hosts.

A close contest looked in the offing, especially as it has ‘previous’ in that respect.

The match at Slaley Hall in England four years ago ended all square and its successor in 2015 at CordeValle, California, resulted in Great Britain and Ireland prevailing by a point.

It was the first time Great Britain and Ireland had won on American soil and, at last, the Llandudno Trophy accompanied the visitors home.

The trophy, which is presented to the winners of the biennial competition, boasts a rich and curious history.

As well as bearing the name of a Welsh seaside town, the silver pot sustained a dent in its lid when dislodged from its perch in rural Dorset by earth tremors caused by an errant bomb dropped by the Germans during World War II.

Fast forward three-quarters of a century or so and it was the Americans who were left reeling after Great Britain and Ireland reprised the 7.5–2.5 singles victory they registered at Slaley Hall.

With the benefit of hindsight, the Americans’ first tee shot executed by Mark Brown was a portent of things to come.

Despite taking an iron for accuracy, Brown’s ball arced its way west towards the driving range. To put the Americans’ demise down to poor play, however, does them and their opponents a disservice.

Robert Coles, Matthew Cort, Andrew Raitt, Phillip Archer, Greig Hutcheon and David Higgins all won their matches, as did Damien McGrane after trailing Brown by two holes.

The comeback kid, however, proved to be Currie. Three down at the turn, Currie went up the 18th a hole to the good after halving the 17th.

His hopes of taking his tally to four wins, a defeat and winning the contest for the hosts were thwarted when his approach felled Coles’ caddy and his par was eclipsed by Rod Perry’s birdie.

Reflecting on his match, Currie said: “Rod’s such a consistent player. He hits the ball very straight, he’s a good iron player and chips and putts great. He was one of the people I thought I could do with avoiding in the singles!

“I was three-down at the turn but got a couple of birdies and managed to put him under pressure coming down the stretch. He made a great birdie on the last to halve the match, which I thought was the right result. It was certainly a game of two halves and I’ll take that. It was another half point to where we had to be.”

That meant it fell to Hutcheon on the 17th to claim the half point needed for victory and deliver the coup de grace match-wise.

Describing how it unfolded, Hutcheon said: “I hit a great second shot in – one of the best I’ve hit all week but it went too long and I’ve left myself the tricky chip.

“I managed to knock it down. But I’m glad no-one told me the putt was for the official victory because I might have missed it!

“I managed to roll it in. It is absolutely brilliant. At my age, I’m never going to get in a Ryder Cup team, so it’s absolutely the next best thing.

“As for Albert – he’s been fantastic. He has done all sorts this week. There have been messages, joke presents, team talks. He has been a great captain. It’s a great honour for me coming from the same neck of the woods – we’re both Aberdeen fans. To hole the putt that won the Cup is great.

“It has got to be right up there with the best. I had a feeling when I saw I was playing seven that it could come down to me.

“But I have been playing with an injury this year. I had left hip problems and you put your body through a lot when you are pounding balls. So I haven’t been playing well.

“Golf is an easy game when it is going well but when it goes bad it is so difficult. I found it hard this week. Albert rested me a couple of times and that was probably just as well – so I could get that half point.”

In doing so, Hutcheon ensured that, as well as winning the match, the cream of Great Britain and Ireland’s PGA Professionals succeeded where others have failed.

While the Ryder, Solheim and Walker Cups remain in American hands, the Llandudno Trophy stays at home.

MacKenzie upbeat on PGA Cup hopes

ALBERT MacKenzie’s optimism after his Great Britain and Ireland team saw a three-point lead trimmed to one was at odds with the colours of the umbrellas unfurled to combat the rain that fell on Foxhills on the second day of the PGA Cup.

Those hues could have reflected the moods in the opposing camps.

The black number sported by Great Britain and Ireland’s players and officials was anything but a jolly brolly.

By contrast, the red, white, blue and star-studded rain repellent held aloft by the Americans mirrored the vibrancy and feelgood factor in the visiting camp.

But for MacKenzie, always an upbeat character, his glass was half-full as opposed to half empty.

“This afternoon, the Americans came out of the blocks quickly and it looked as if we were going to struggle to perhaps even get anything out of the session,” he said.

“So, to finish with a point from this afternoon, which gives us a one-point advantage going into the singles, it’s a wonderful place to be. ”

Great Britain battle back in PGA Cup

IN football parlance, the first day of the PGA Cup at Foxhills could aptly be described as one of two halves.

Three points to one adrift after the morning fourballs, Great Britain enjoyed a reversal of fortunes after lunch to prevail in the foursomes by 3.5-0.5.

Not quite awesome foursomes then but as near as dammit. All of which meant the turnaround ensured Albert MacKenzie’s 10-strong team of eight debutants and two old hands ended a chilly autumnal day at the Surrey resort leading the match by 4.5 to 3.5 points.

MacKenzie, vice-captain when Great Britain and Ireland claimed the Llandudno Trophy on American soil for the first time two years ago, opted for experience to begin the quest to register back-to-back wins for the first time since 1984.

Thus Scotland’s Greig Hutcheon and Damien McGrane of Ireland were tasked with carrying the host’s standard round the tree-lined and challenging Longcross Course.

In the event, the pair suffered Great Britain and Ireland’s heaviest defeat of the day, going down three and two to Rod Perry and Jamie Broce.

Rob Coles and Chris McDonnell also lost; likewise Andrew Raitt and Phillip Archer.

Salvation came with another Scottish and Irish combo, Chris Currie and David Higgins. 

More importantly, as well as sprinkling respectability on the score-line, the pair’s three and one victory over Omar Uresti and Paul Claxton raised spirits for the afternoon’s foursomes.

None more so than those of Matt Cort and Garry Houston. Having sat out the morning session and sent out first, the pair began the process of turning the predominantly red-coloured leaderboard blue.

Victory by two holes over Dave McNabb and Josh Speight ensued and the duo had no hesitation in outlining how brilliant an experience it is to compete in the PGA Cup. 

“It was amazing,” enthused Cort. “I’ve spoken to a few guys that have played in the team in the past – they’ve had good careers but they say this is the highlight. I’ve not had that much experience of team golf, especially foursomes.

“Fourballs can be quite relaxing but foursomes are totally different. They can be quite nerve-racking and challenging so now I can see why it means so much.”

Houston, who represents Wales, was similarly enthusiastic. “I agree 100 per cent,” he concurred. “We’ve played at levels that are maybe higher but I haven’t felt pressure like that straight from the start. It was a buzz. You’ve got to embrace the situation.”

The pair began to take a firm grip on their match when Cort rolled home a long-range putt from the apron at the front of the ninth green. 

“It was kind of one of those putts where you hit it out of the middle and you know it’s going to be good all the way. That kind of got us going. 

“We got to three-up after 13 but good players always come back at you – you’ve got to expect them to. That’s what they did but we managed to keep ahead and play well coming in.”

Coles and Raitt increased the blue hue on the scoreboards that punctuate the course – as did Currie and Archer. 

In doing so, the former was the only member of the Great Britain and Ireland team to win both his matches and while in a team event it is perhaps invidious to single out an individual.

However, the Scot’s hole-winning birdie putt on the eighth in the foursomes followed by an approach to the ninth that deposited the ball five foot from the pin to set up his partner for another birdie were exceptional examples of golfing skill.