Archive for June, 2018

Cort takes a shine to sun-drenched Saunton

COMPETITORS in the English PGA Championship at Saunton were fulsome in their praise for the course, the club’s hospitality and tireless efforts of the volunteers who were essential in ensuring the tournament ran smoothly, but Matt Cort has more reason than any of them to want to take this glorious portion of Devon home with him.

Having won the PGA Play-Offs on the club’s East course two years ago, the pro from Beedles Lake Golf Club, Leicestershire, followed up with victory on its younger sibling, the West, to claim the £5,000 first prize.

There the similarities end, however. Whereas Cort prevailed in a play-off in October 2016, he led the revived English PGA Championship from start to finish to be 14-under-par at the end of 54-holes and three shots clear of second-placed James Freeman.

Even more contrasting was the hue and constitution of the courses. Days of unrelenting sunshine had turned the lush and forgiving fairways of the autumn into parched rock-hard strips of terrain that, pock-marked with 18 outcrops of green grass, resembled golf courses found in the desert.

All of which called for Cort to show his skills as a golfer by adapting to alien conditions.

“It was a bit more fiery this time,” said the winner with considerable understatement. “This was a different beast to the grassy and softer conditions we experienced two years ago. It’s something we don’t usually come across and I had to change my game.

“I usually hit a lot of drivers off the tee – that’s one of my strengths as I’m pretty accurate. But there was no need for it here – the ball runs so far and you’ve really got to plot your way round.”

A six-under-par opening round of 65 followed by two of four-under were proof positive of a game plan he refused to change, even when Paul Nessling, his closest pursuer at the beginning of the final round, produced a high-octane start.

An opening salvo of three birdies on the bounce erased Cort’s two-shot advantage and pole position changed hands. But not for long. Nessling followed up with bogey, double bogey, bogey, and thereafter it became something of a stroll for Cort.

Freeman, who represents Retford Golf Club, kept in touch to ensure an East Midlands one-two at the top of the leaderboard. And Andy Raitt weighed in with a hole-in-one at the par-three 16th en route to finishing third on 10-under.

As a result, Cort was able to adopt a safety first route in negotiating the final two holes although he did flirt with bunkers at both.

He admitted he was fortunate to avoid trouble on both occasions and added: “Good things happen when you win I suppose and I’m delighted to win this tournament.

“It’s a prestigious one and to have it back on the schedule after an eight year gap is great for us pros.”

Leading scores: Matthew Cort (Beedles Lake) -14; James Freeman (Retford Golf Club) – 11; Andy Raitt (St George’s Hill) -10; Greig Hutcheon (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre), Paul Nessling (Cooden Beach Golf Club) -6; Phillip Archer (Poulton Park Golf Club), Andrew Willey (Oakmere Park Golf Club), Ross Langdon (Brickhampton Court Golf Complex) -3.


Kelly gets his eye in

LUKE Kelly was top of the shots in the Galvin Green Northern Order of Merit fixture at Manchester.

But it was a close call for the Ashton-under-Lyne player who got the verdict on countback from Manchester’s Aiden Hoosen to claim the Hulbert Trophy.

Kelly opened with a three-under-par 69 and followed up with 70 which included a trio of birdies from the seventh,

Nelson’s Curtis Clarkin maintained his 55 points lead from the chasing pack.

LEADING SCORES: 139 Luke Kelly (Ashton-under-Lyne) 69 70, Aiden Hoosen (Manchester) 68 71; 141 Joseph Bannan (Manchester) 71 70, Ian Kenwright (Haydock Park) 70 71; 145 Anthony Harwood (Blackburn) 71 74, Gregory Holmes (Royal Birkdale) 70 75; 146 Graeme Booth (Formby) 74 72, Gareth Clark (Manchester) 70 76; 147 James Kempster (Bramhall) 71 76; 148 Ciaran Doherty (Bury) 76 72, Liam Kindon (Delamere Forest) 74 74; 149 Max Rogers (Astbury) 74 75.

ORDER OF MERIT:  285 Curtis Clarkin (Nelson); 230 Oliver Ravenscroft (Hillside), Ciaran Doherty (Bury); 225 Ian Kenwright (Haydock Park); 215 Steven Capper (Royal Liverpool); 230 Ciaran Doherty (Bury); 190 Calum Metcalf (Pleasington), Graham Booth (Formby Hall); 170 Jack Brooks (Mere); 160 Aiden Hoosen (Manchester); 150 John Carroll (Huyton & Prescot), Matt Collinge (Greenmount), Martin Thomas (Royal Liverpool).

Murray stays in pole position

MANCHESTER’S Tom Murray finished day two of the Hauts de France Golf Open the way he began it — with a three-shot lead.

He showed no signs of tension as he opened with a string of pars before birdies on the fifth, sixth and ninth holes further increased his advantage over the field.

Turning in three under par 33, Murray (pictured, courtesy Getty Images) appeared to be in control of his golf ball following a birdie on the difficult par four 12th. However, a pair of dropped shots over

Tom Murray.jpgthe remaining holes would cut his sizable six-stroke lead in half.

Despite the hiccup down the stretch, the 28-year-old was happy with where he stood after his second consecutive sub-par round at the undulating Saint-Omer Golf Club.

“If you had given me eight under after two rounds on Thursday morning, especially with the weather we had, I definitely would have taken it,” said Murray. “I wasn’t brilliant today, but I just missed it in the right spots, stayed patient and putted nicely.”

“It’s not rocket science, really. You just hit the first tee shot where you want to hit it, then get the ball on the correct bit of the green and then just stay patient,” he said.

Hot on the trail are two players who will look to close the gap on Day Three. Stuart Manley, who sits in the sixth position on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah, is perhaps the most in-form player in the field. After advancing to a play-off last week, but failing to lift the trophy, the Welshman will be as determined as ever to hunt down the leading Murray and solidify his place inside the top 15 with a win.

Joining him in second place is Dutchman Daan Huizing, whose rounds of 69-68 have featured only three bogeys across two days of strong winds and difficult scoring conditions.


Festival time as Morecambe hits the mark

Golf Mark Award Morecambe GC.jpg

AWARD PRESENTATION: From left, Stuart Buckley, general manager, Adam McAlister, England Golf’s club support officer (Lancashire), Keith Morley, captain, and Simon Fletcher, head professional

MORECAMBE Golf Club has won a national award for its efforts to grow the game and marked the achievement in typical style with a festival for local schools.

It has been presented with the GolfMark award, an official seal of approval for clubs which successfully work to develop the game by attracting new members and encouraging existing ones to play more; using practical business planning to develop the club; offering coaching and playing opportunities for all golfers; and ensuring safeguarding policies are in place

The club celebrated its centenary in 2005 and prides itself on maintaining the traditions of the sport while offering the next generation of players a warm and friendly welcome.

It has been at its present home since 1923, with the Dr Alister MacKenzie designed course offering superb views over the Morecambe Bay and to the Lakeland fells beyond.

The award was presented to the club during a schools tri-golf festival event by England Golf’s Lancashire Golf Club Support officer Adam  McAlister.

Morecambe’s general manager Stuart Buckley said: “”We are one of only a select amount of golf clubs in Lancashire to have received this award and it is a testament to our team of PGA professional coaches and volunteers at the club that put in hours of work to achieve what we have done.”


Champion Flanagan fights way back to fitness


TOP MAN: Tony Flanagan receives the trophy from Lancs UGC president Mike Lay

TONY Flanagan capped his return from major surgery by being crowned Lancashire Seniors’ county champion for the first time.

The Clitheroe man’s entrance into the over-55 ranks had been delayed by a back problem which required an operation and intensive physiotherapy to even return to the golf course.

With the 58 year-old also suffering problems with the tendons in his right arm, it looked like his chance to be part of the thriving seniors’ scene in the Red Rose county was passing him by.

But at Blackpool North Shore, the months of hard work, both out on the range and on his rehabilitation programme, paid off in style as he claimed the title for the first time with a three-shot victory.

Flanagan paved the way for his success with an opening 70, one under par over the challenging seaside course, which was matched by Karl Bowker of Bolton Old Links.

And he held off the chasing pack with a second day 74 to leave last year’s winner, Trevor Foster from Accrington, in second place.

But the outgoing champion paid a fulsome tribute to his rival and friend, saying: “I have always said football is the best game in the world, but golf is the greatest – and one of the reasons for that is the friendships you make. So I am not disappointed to be runner-up because I am chuffed for the man who has won.”

Flanagan, too, paid tribute to the backing he has received as he battled back from surgery. “To be honest, I was a bit choked,” said the Whalley man, who is playing his first full season in the senior ranks.  “I have received so much support from people.

“This was a championship I always felt I could win, but that doesn’t mean it was going to happen. So I am delighted to have come out on top of a high quality field.”

Flanagan had clubmate Mark Ashworth, a former Lancashire county champion, on the bag for the first round and it proved a successful combination.

“Mark is a good friend of mine and he felt that the course would suit my game,” said Flanagan. “He helped me plot the right lines round the course and then on the second day it was a case of getting round safely to post a total.

“I must admit I had a good feeling about the course when I arrived. I have worked hard on my game and have been striking the ball well. And I holed some important three or four footers on the last five holes to make sure I didn’t drop any shots late on.”

Flanagan will head north for the Scottish Seniors as his next assignment while he is also hoping to play his part in Lancashire’s bid to become national champions again.

Rob Godley (Hillside) finished third behind Flanagan and Foster, while the age group category winners included former Lancashire county captain Cliff Bowman, who took the honours in the over 70 group at the age of 77.



Winner: Tony Flanagan (Clitheroe GC) 70-74=144 (+2)

Runner-up: Trevor Foster (Accrington GC) 74-73=147 (+5)

Third: Rob Godley (Hillside GC) 75-73=148 (+6)

Category A (55-59 years): Gross winner, Gary Byrne (Clitheroe) 149; Nett winner, Ian Owens (Burnley) 145

Category B (60-64): Gross winner, Martin Wild (Wilmslow) 152; Nett winner, Clive Appleby (Fairhaven) 144

Category C (65-69): Gross winner, Mike Gray (Lancaster) 155; Nett winner, Stuart Coupe (Pleasington) 141

Category D (70 plus): Gross winner, Cliff Bowman (Blackpool North Shore) 162; Nett winner, Len Walker (Denton) 147

Best nett day one: Karl Bowker (Bolton Old Links) 70-2-68

Best nett day two: David Hughes (High Legh) 77-9-68


Hibbert makes his mark

DELAMERE Forest’s Jake Hibbert chalked up his maiden win in the the Galvin Green Northern Order of Merit with rounds of 70 and 72 for a two-under-par total to claim the Eaton Talbot.

Joseph Williams, from Heswall, and Hibbert’s clubmate Gregory Osbourne, were two strokes off the pace.

Meanwhile, Nelson’s Curtis Clarkin maintained his 55 points lead from the chasing pack.

LEADING SCORES: 142 Jake Hibbert (Delamere Forest) 70 72; 144 Joseph Williamson (Heswall) 71 73, Gregory Osbourne (Delamere Forest) 70 74; 147 Graeme Booth (Formby) 75 72; 148 Simon Pay (Helsby) 77 71, Graham Strachan (Bury) 74 74; 152 Greg Whitby (Chester) 80 72, Thomas Hollingworth (Macclesfield) 76 76; 153 Sham Jagota (Eaton) 80 73, Mark Kimpton (Vicars Cross) 78 75, Michael Bennett (Bury) 77 76, James Ashfield (Eaton) 76 77.

ORDER OF MERIT: 285 Curtis Clarkin (Nelson); 230 Oliver Ravenscroft (Hillside); 215 Steven Capper (Royal Liverpool); 210 Ciaran Doherty (Bury); 190 Calum Metcalf (Pleasington), Graham Booth (Formby Hall); 170 Jack Brooks (Mere); 165 Ian Kenwright (Haydock Park); 150 John Carroll (Huyton & Prescot), Matt Collinge (Greenmount), Martin Thomas (Royal Liverpool), Jack Hibbert (Delamere Forest).


Metcalfe takes five

CALUM Metcalfe reeled off five birdies on the home stretch in a first round three-under-par 68 on his way to winning the Calvert Trophy at Ashton & Lea.

The Pleasington one handicapper followed up with 71 to finish three strokes ahead of a trio of players lead by the host club Liam Jenkinson.

In the same group was Nelson’s Curtis Clarkin who took over pole position in the Galvin Green Northern Order of Merit, 55 points ahead of previous leader Oliver Ravenscroft from Hillside.

LEADING SCORES: 139 Calum Metcalfe (Pleasington) 68 71; 142 Liam Jenkinson (Ashton & Lea) 72 70, Curtis Clarkin (Nelson) 72 70, Graeme Booth (Formby Hall) 71 71; 149 Ben Ewen (Wilpshire) 76 73, Owen Leigh (Pleasington) 75 74, Thomas Rigby (Dean Wood) 71 78, Gregory Osborne (Delamere Forest) 76 73; 150 Marvin Clarke (Kirkby Valley) 76 74; 152 Jason Thomas (Ashton & Lea) 75 77, Thomas Riley (Clitheroe) 78 74; 154 Greg Peel (Wilpshire) 79 75.

ORDER OF MERIT: 285 Curtis Clarkin (Nelson); 230 Oliver Ravenscroft (Hillside); 215 Steven Capper (Royal Liverpool); 210 Ciaran Doherty (Bury); 190 Calum Metcalfe (Pleasington); 170 Jack Brooks (Mere); 165 Ian Kenwright (Haydock Park); 150 John Carroll (Huyton & Prescot); 150 Matt Collinge (Greenmount), Martin Thomas (Royal Liverpool); 145 Matthew Nuttall (Royal Birkdale), Graham Booth (Formby Hall).