Kelly gets his eye in to win Lancs crown

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CHAMPION: Luke Kelly receives the trophy from Mike Lay, president of the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs. Picture: RAYMOND FARLEY

LUKE Kelly delivered one of the rounds of his life on the way to winning the Lancashire County Championship.

The 19-year-old from Ashton-under-Lyne completed a superb two-shot victory over the testing links at West Lancashire Golf Club where he  was seven under par for the four rounds,  his second round six under 66 proving the pivotal moment.

Kelly opened with a two-over 74 which left him in need of making up some ground after Richie Blundell (Hillside) set the pace with a 68, one ahead of George Holland (Southport and Ainsdale).

However a stunning start to his second round sent him on his way to the halfway lead.

Kelly, a regular with the Lancashire county men’s team, rolled in five birdies on the front nine and could have gone even lower after missing a four foot putt at the ninth where his approach rattled the flag.

That set up his 66, matched by Joseph Bannan (Manchester) in the third round on an action-packed final day which saw the remaining 36 holes played out.

Bannan’s heroics cut the gap at the top to one but Kelly held his nerve to deliver 70,71 over the last two rounds to keep his rival and Jonathan Hurst (Pleasington) at bay.

Kelly, who started playing aged 11 at his local club and is coached by Gareth Benson, said: “I hold the course record at Warrington, and that is the only round I can think betters the 66. I had played well on the first day but made a few mistakes, but second time round I started holing a few putts and cut out the errors.

“This was one of the events I always wanted to win and it’s a great feeling to be county champion. It is a great championship and the 72-hole format sets you up nicely for the big national events.

“The weather was different every day so it tested all aspects of your game,” added Kelly, a former England-U16 international.

Meanwhile, Pleasington will represent Lancashire in the national finals of the champion club competition.

 

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