It’s elementary for Lancs boys’ champ Holmes

GREG Holmes is the new Lancashire County boys’ champion after a commanding performance in tricky conditions at Nelson Golf Club. The 16-year-old, who plays out of Royal Birkdale, was the only competitor in the field to break par in both rounds.

Greg Holmes.jpgHe followed up a 69 over the opening 18 holes in the morning – one under par – to go one shot better and secure a six-shot success with a combined total of three-under-par 137.

Runner-up was Grady Rogerson (Royal Lytham & St Annes), the only other player under par in the morning with a matching 69. But the 2016 Lancashire Under-16s champion was unable to keep the pressure up on Holmes in the afternoon as he mustered a 74 to finish on 143 for the championships, organised by the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs.

A testing breeze made scoring conditions awkward on a bright day but after Holmes and Rogerson traded scores at the halfway point, it was Holmes (pictured) who made the break after lunch with birdies at three of the first four holes.

However his round wobbled round the turn as he stumbled to bogeys at nine, ten and eleven.

But the teenager rallied superbly over the closing holes, a neat up and down on the par five 15th bringing him a tension-easing birdie. He needed an even better recovery on the par three next to escape with a par from wide of the green.

He capped his success with a grandstand finish, pitching to six inches at the 18th for a tap-in birdie and the title.

“This was one of the events I had targeted for this year,” said the plus one player, a regular in the Lancashire Boys’ team, who played in a pre-season friendly for the full county team, “so it is nice to win it. The wind did make things tricky. After making such a good start in the afternoon, I think I relaxed a little too much so I was pleased to play solidly coming in.”

Holmes won both the men’s scratch competitions last year, at the age of 15, at Royal Birkdale and his hometown club Wigan, where he is still a member.

Next target is his GCSE exams before he turns his attentions to golf once more and a date at Open qualifying at Fairhaven as he continues to widen his golfing education.

Rossendale successfully defended their title as Champion Club through Harry Lord and Alex James and will represent Lancashire at the English finals at Woodhall Spa GC, headquarters of England Golf.

A strong field also included what organisers believe is a first – with three brothers taking part. The Holland brothers are from Mawdesley and play out of Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club. James, 17, plays off one as does 15-year-old George, with both featuring in the Lancashire Boys’ squads, while Charlie is 13 and has a handicap of just nine and is a member of the Lancashire U14s squad. Waiting in the wings are younger brothers Harry, 10, and Jude, 7.

RESULTS

Championship Plate: Greg Holmes (Royal Birkdale, 69-68-137)

Runner-up: Grady Rogerson (Royal Lytham & St Annes, 69-74-143)

Third place: Oliver Ravenscroft (Hillside, 73-73-146)

Best nett total: James Nash (Ormskirk, 68-69-137)

Best morning nett: Alex James (Rossendale, 73-5-68)

Best afternoon nett: Oliver Duck (Southport and Ainsdale, 73-5-68)

Best morning gross: Harry Lord (Rossendale, 71)

Best afternoon gross: Luke Bartram (Rossendale, 72)

Champion club: Rossendale (Harry Lord, Alex James)

FIXTURES: May 24 Collinge Trophy (Accrington); May 30 Lancashire Seniors v Staffordshire Seniors (The Chase); June 2-4 Lancashire County Championship (Lancaster); June 7 Bell Trophy (Rochdale); June 11 Lancashire v Cumbria (Ashton-in-Makerfield); June 12-13 Lancashire Seniors’ Championship  (Lytham Green Drive)

 

Lancs and Cheshire lose opening NCL fixtures

LANCASHIRE were comprehensively beaten 5.5-12.5 by Northumberland at Bolton Old Links as the Daily Telegraph Northern Counties League got under way.

The Red Rose side lost the foursome 4-2 then mustered only 3.5 points in the singles, John Carroll (Huyton & Prescot), Joe Brice (Manchester) and Reece Cranfield (Wigan) the only winners.

Cheshire got off to a promising start against defending champions Yorkshire at Ganton when they halved the foursomes.

But they lost the top four singles before Dominic Barnes (Caldy) stopped the rot with a one hole win over Luke Robinson (Hornsea).

Yorkshire regained the initiative by taking the next three matches but the final four Cheshire players salvaged some of their pride thanks to wins by Sam Turner (Stockport), Chris Chilton (High Legh Park) and Mike Harrington (Prestbury) as Cameron Massey (Northenden) halved the final tie.

Elsewhere, Cumbria overcame Durham 12-6 at Seascale.

 

Simpson’s extra special

Isaac Simpson.JPGISAAC Simpson showed Sheffield steel on his way to winning a three-way play-off and clinching the PGA North Assistants’ Championship of Lancashire at Ellesmere.

And he achieved it in style with a 20-birdie putt from off the green at the third extra hole to deny Chorley’s in-form Andy Palmer and Richard Pickard, from Warrington, who posted a blemish-free card.

Simpson (pictured), in his second year at south Yorkshire club Hallowes, reached the turn on four-under-par thanks to an eagle at the fourth.

“I had a lot of other chances I should have taken,” he reflected. “I made a mistake when I bogeyed the 16th which I put down to bad club selection.”

Palmer also picked up two shots at the fourth and birdied the last two to stay in contention.

LEADING SCORES: 67 Isaac Simpson (Hallowes), Richard Pickard (Warrington), Andrew Palmer (Chorley); 69 Jason Dransfield (Heswall), Oliver Smith (Ashton-on-Mersey), Tom Metcalfe (Gathurst); 71 Jamie Howarth (Davenport), Tim Ford (Liverpool Driving Range.

Big field for Brabazon Trophy

MORE than 260 golfers will set out next week to try to win a place in one of amateur game’s top championships, the Brabazon Trophy.

They’ve a sprint ahead of them: just 18 holes to claim a top-30 spot at either of two pre-qualifiers and guarantee a place in the championship. They’re being held on Tuesday at the southern venue of Littlestone, Kent, and the northern host club, Sandiway in Cheshire.

The successful competitors will join more than 80 exempt players in an international field challenging for the title of English men’s open amateur strokeplay champion.

The Brabazon Trophy, as it’s better known, will be played at the home of England Golf, on the famed Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa, from May 25-28.

It’s one of amateur golf’s most sought-after titles, attracting future stars of the professional game from around the world and two of the champions, Sandy Lyle and Charl Schwartzel, have gone on to win Majors.

This year’s pre-qualifying hopefuls include Devon’s Harrison Greenberry, who is a past British boys’ champion, Hertfordshire’s Danny Daniels from the England Golf boys’ squad; and former boy international Rhys Nevin-Wharton, who will enjoy home advantage at Sandiway.

All the contenders will be aiming to join a field which represents global golf. Exempt players will be travelling from as far as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Saudi Arabia to take part.

But there will be an extra frisson for payers from Great Britain and Ireland, with the selectors for this year’s Walker Cup match paying particular attention to the action.

Eighteen members of the GB&I Walker Cup squad are in the exempt field and there will be others who aim to catch the eye, such as the in-form Jack Singh Brar (Remedy Oak, Dorset), who has just won the Lytham Trophy.

Who will join them to complete the championship field? For more information on the Brabazon Trophy pre-qualifying tournaments, including tee times and lives scores on the day, please visit http://www.englandgolf.org/brabazontrop

Sophie and Gemma to the fore

NORTH West top shots Gemma Clews and Sophie Lamb are expected to figure highly as England  target a second Nations Cup win in a week when the Irish women’s strokeplay championship starts today.

Gemma, from Delamere Forest, and Clitheroe’s Sophie (pictured) successfully teamed up with Sammy Fuller to take the honours at last weekend’s Welsh women’s strokeplay – where Gemma also won the individual title.Sophie Lamb (4).jpg

Today they are joined by fellow international Georgia Price, from Bude,  for their latest challenge at Co Louth Golf Club.

All three players were in England’s winning team at the recent mixed international against Spain.

Gemma, 22, scored her biggest win to date when she won the Welsh women’s strokeplay title by five shots. She has also won two top scratch events this season with a combined score of 20-under par.

Sophie, 19, is the British strokeplay champion and shared 10th place at the Welsh championship and 15th in the Scottish strokeplay.  She finished in the top 10 at the Harder Hall Invitational in the USA.

Shacklady and Jones share spoils at Childwall

SERIAL winner David Shacklady ran up a treble bogey seven on the ninth hole in the third PGA North Players’ Event at Childwall.

But the Mossock Hall maestro (pictured) leaked another shot on the final green and had tDavid Shacklady c.JPGo settle for a share of the spoils with Royal Liverpool’s Michael Jones who closed with a birdie.

They were the only pair to finish on level par 72, Penwortham’s Ryan O’Neill claiming third spot a stroke back.

LEADING SCORES: 72 David Shacklady (Mossock Hall), Michael Jones (Royal Liverpool); 73 Ryan O’Neill (Penwortham); 74 Daniel Croft (Huyton & Prescot), Iain Davie (Hazel Grove); 73 Graham Cox (Lymm).

Archer bids for Leeds Cup hat-trick

PHIL Archer has set his sights firmly on completing a hat-trick of Leeds Cup victories when professional golf’s oldest trophy, sponsored by Teesside-based financial services provider Ramsdens, moves back to its spiritual home at Cobble Hall next week (May 15-17).

The Birchwood-attached player prevailed in 2000 and last year, having returned from competing on the European Tour where he was best known for posting a 60 in the first round in the Celtic Manor Wales Open in 2006, agonisingly missing the rPhil Archer .JPGecord by a shot.

He twice played in the US Open and Open Championship and in 2007 was a member of the victorious GB&I team competing in the Seve Trophy, The same year Archer also won three times on the Challenge Tour before returning to regional golf and reclaimed the Leeds Cup again last year.

He is among seven former champions in a 109-strong field, including and Carden Park’s Garry Houston who prevailed in 2012 and again three years later.

Windermere’s Simon Edwards is expected to be in contention following his recovery from injury and Nick Ludwell (Selby), John Wells (Snainton Golf Centre), David Smith (Swinton Park) and Steve Parry (Hart Common) will also be hoping to lift the iconic trophy again.

PGA North secretary Jonathan Paine said: “The sponsorship offer by Ramsdens has given the Leeds Cup a tremendous boost and we’re delighted by the number of players who have entered. This is a famous old tournament and the trophy is so valuable it’s kept under lock and key at the Belfry PGA headquarters.”