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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Debutants shine but Cumbria miss out to Lancashire in Northern Counties qualifier

Cumbria were made to play second fiddle to Lancashire in The Big 6 Northern Counties qualifier at Ponteland Golf Club, Northumberland.

Kieran Waters photo
Kieran Waters

Ponteland was in excellent condition as it greeted the contenders from the six Northern Counties and the Isle of Man.

The occasion was marred by the death of the Isle of Man champion, Davy Jones, last Tuesday, killed in a motorcycle accident on the island.

Cumbria, in intermittent rain, started in steady mode, with veteran John Longcake (Silloth), claiming the Cumbrian record number of appearances of 136, fighting back from three over to record a par round of 72.

He was followed by James Atkinson (Kendal) posting a three over par 75. Third home was Grant Little (Carlisle), again recovering to a level-par round. Captain Martin Hand’s decision to play youngsters Thomas Forster (Brampton) and Kieran Waters (Carlisle) in this most stressful of competitions paid off as Thomas came home two-under and Kieran recorded a three-under round.

At the back Will Bowe (Workington) was finding his putter running hot and cold, sinking some long putts and missing shorter ones.

He managed a one over par finish, completed through a torrential downpour. Cumbria found themselves in the lead over defending champions Lancashire by four shots at the end of Round 1, with Yorkshire lying third, three shots further back.

The afternoon again saw more torrential rain with several fairways flooded and some greens having to be swept clear of water before the players could putt.

Longcake maintained his steady golf, returning a two over 74. Second man Atkinson however could not find his game and was six down after seven.

Thereafter, things improved marginally but he could only get one shot better to come home five over at 77.

Little followed him home with a two over round of 74. Forster mirrored his excellent round of the morning with a 70 in the afternoon, playing in a very disciplined manner, with former County golfer Nev Johnstone on his bag.

Waters found things a bit more difficult in the afternoon, coming to the final green two down only to sink an eagle putt to great cheers from the Cumbrian crowd of supporters round the green.

Bowe was unable to find any magic on the course and coming to the 18th, one over, saw his par putt horseshoe out to complete his round on a disappointing note of a 74.

Lancashire in the meantime had stepped up a gear with Mark Young recording a round of 67 and Paul Howard completing a two round total of 137.

It was good to see young Tom Harris from the Isle of Man recording the best morning round of 67, dedicated to the memory of his lost colleague.

Hand said that this team competition often challenged even the best golfers in terms of stress and attitude and he was particularly pleased that Forster and Waters turned out to be Cumbria’s best performers.

He said: “Overall I am pleased with the team’s performance though I do have to congratulate Lancashire for yet again performing brilliantly when it mattered.”

They will go on to represent the North of England in the National Finals in September.

Final scores: Lancashire 855, Yorkshire 872, Cumbria 872, Northumberland 880, Cheshire 886, Durham 887, Isle of Man 913

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