Ball ends Hastie’s hat-trick bid

GARETH Hastie was denied a hat-trick of Bolton Golf Association Championship crowns when he was beaten 3&1 in the final at Chorley by former host club member Liam Ball.

SAND SAVER: Liam Ball

CHAMPION: Turton’s Liam Ball

The 36-year-old printer, who had also made his mark by claiming the title twice before, won the opening hole with a birdie but that was the last time he held the upper hand.

Turton player Ball, 24, who spent eight months in the professional ranks before regaining his amateur status, hit back immediately with a birdie at the second then swept into the lead on the fifth after his rival tangled with the rough.

It was nip and tuck from then on, Lostock Park man Hastie who was also Chorley member for a brief period, twice seeing his opponent match his pars thanks to skilfully executed sand escapes.

Ball produced another stroke of genius when he holed a 40-foot birdie putt from the back of the ninth green where Hastie responded by missing a relatively short up-hiller and so remained one down at the turn.

“My putting was not at its best,” admitted Hastie. “I left too many chances out there.”

Ball surged two ahead at the 15th but Hastie lost a great opportunity to reduce the deficit when his two-foot putt lipped out at the next before conceding the match at the 17th after flirting with a tree.

Ball, who won the title in 2010, revealed that he was surprised to even qualify for the matchplay stages because his playing opportunities had been restricted by his new job in the building trade.

“I had a few holes with my pals at Turton last week and that was the only practising I did,” he said.

But the plus-one ranked player said that the victory had renewed his appetite for the game and he hoped to regain a place in the Lancashire County fold and compete in Cleveland Srixon Northern Order of Merit events.

Hastie, meanwhile, is looking forward to his debut in next week’s Mid-Amateur Strokeplay Championship for the Logan Trophy at Worksop.

 

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