Lancashire seniors set sights on double

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BIG SHOTS: Lancashire senior players celebrate another victory

LANCASHIRE’S senior golfers have one title in the bag – and their sights on a second. They powered through their Northern Counties League campaign with an unbeaten run of five wins from five starts.

Mike Gray’s side had seen off Cheshire, Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland as they chased their first championship crown since 2016 and the fifth time in all since 2011.

And they made no mistake in dismissing their opponents in the final match, Cumbria, by a comprehensive 12-6 margin to complete a spectacular clean sweep.

Hard on their heels of the championship success came another impressive show as Lancashire won the Northern qualifier at Delamere Forest to reach the English finals at Stanton on the Wolds on October 9-11.

The winning team was Tony Holt, Neil Self, Karl Bowker, Tony Flanagan, Ian Crowther and Bryan Hughes. They will be joined by Trevor Foster and Rob Godley in the eight-man team for the national finals.

Gray, who is stepping down after 10 years at the helm, said: “The team have played superbly all season – they are a talented group of players and their pride, passion and attitude in playing for Lancashire and wanting to do well has been first class.

“Their ability to produce the goods when their backs are against the wall is fantastic and I would like to put on record my appreciation for all the players who have represented the county during my time as captain. I don’t think any Yorkshireman could be prouder of a group of Lancastrians!”

The squad includes newly-crowned British Amateur senior champion Accrington’s Foster and the man who succeeded him as Lancashire senior champion, Tony Flanagan (Clitheroe), as well as stalwarts such as former county captain Billy Bromilow (Chorley) and Tony Holt (Clitheroe). Other regulars include Neil Self (Stand), Steve Lord (Rochdale), Steve Matthews (Blackburn) and Gary Byrne (Clitheroe).

Newcomers to the county set-up this season included Bryan Hughes (Hesketh), the 2017 British Seniors’ Champion, Karl Bowker (Bolton Old Links), Martyn Brooks (Pleasington), Dave Hannis (Blackpool North Shore) and Rob Godley (Hillside).

The team has certainly had to battle hard for success through the season, with a narrow 9.5-8.5 win over Northumberland maintaining their unbeaten run. The pairings of Flanagan/David Hannis (Blackpool North Shore); Bromilow/Andy Riley (Burnley); and Rob Parry (Royal Birkdale)/Peter Darlington (Southport & Ainsdale)) producing a vital haul of five points in the final three matches.

Previously, Lancashire secured a 10-8 win over a determined Durham side, who pushed them hard throughout, and a dramatic 10-8 victory over Roses rivals Yorkshire.

A match of nip and tuck seemed destined for a draw until Lancashire’s final pairing of Andy Riley and Ian Owens (Burnley) fought back from two down with three to play to gain the all important half on the 18th.

“The Yorkshire match was a titanic struggle between the two teams I believe are the strongest in seniors’ golf in England, with the match featuring a dozen players off scratch or better,” added Gray.

Lancashire opened the season with a 14.5 to 3.5 romp against Cheshire.

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