GOLF: Cold Ashby’s Nicholas claims Higgs Bowl success

WINNER - Stuart Nicholas
WINNER - Stuart Nicholas
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Cold Ashby’s Stuart Nicholas lifted the first piece of silverware on the NGL calendar as he won the Higgs Bowl at Peterborough Milton GC.

With strong winds making scoring difficult, the three-handicapper was in magnificent form early on as he bagged gross birdies at the first, seven and 13th holes.

Despite carding a triple bogey at the 15th, Nicholas responded with a birdie on the 17th to grab a one stroke victory with a net 69. In a field of 159 golfers, Wellingborough’s John McGowan battled back from a slow start to take second on countback from Paul Pridmore (Kettering), James Nunn (Northants County) and Mark Spring (Collingtree).

Robin Williams collected the gross prize with a one-under-par 70 on his home course.

Ladies NGL County Championship preview

Thalia Martin (Peterborough Milton) will be looking to retain her NGL Ladies County Championship crown when the three-day tournament starts at Northants County GC on Friday (May 5).

With the field competing over 36 holes on the opening day, the leading eight ladies will progress through to the knockout stages, with the next eight players competing for the Plate.

Former winners taking part include home club member Karen Lobb and Wellingborough duo Carol Gibbs and Mary MacLaren. The long course could suit big hitters Natasha Ainsley-Thomas (Whittlebury) and Roseann Youngman (Northampton).

Ladies Cecil Leitch

Group 1

Delapre Park’s ladies couldn’t build on a narrow home win against Rushden as they lost the return leg 5-2, as well as suffering a home defeat by the scoreline at the hands of Wellingborough.

After losing their opening match to Peterborough Milton last month, Delapre displayed their nerve against Rushden with a 4-3 home success, thanks to wins from Bina Shah, Theresa Amalfitano, Mary Ganley and Linda Adams.

Rushden avenged the loss a few days later on their own course as Julie Beavan, Elizabeth Hall, Ellen Steel, Lynda Davis and Pam McCutcheon grabbed points in a 5-2 success.

In between those two games Delapre suffered their second home defeat of the campaign as they went down 5-2 to Wellingborough.

Lema Townsend and Jacqueline Mudd took the opening two points for the visitors on the closing hole, before Delapre replied with wins from Yvonne Jolly and Ganley.

Wellingborough weren’t to be denied however Rachael Wilford, Kate Nolan and Patricia Dawson took the last three games with holes to spare.

Group 2

Cold Ashby followed up a 5-2 victory against Northampton with a 4-3 reverse against Staverton Park. Ruth Sleigh, Pamela Kerr, Lyn Thomas, Rose Dempsey and Sue Begley helped the team to an excellent opening result of the year.

The contest with Staverton proved a little tighter with the decisive point being claimed for the visitors by Jane Hall down the 18th hole.

Northampton, meanwhile, bounced back in style at home to Silverstone as they won 5-2.

Group 3

Overstone got the defence of their title off to the ideal start as they recorded a 5-2 home victory against Brampton Heath.

Baylie Pyke took the opening tie, Suzanne Silvester added another point, while Margo Lerin recorded a huge win for the hosts. Although Jane Rose and Susan Hancock collected away wins, Overstone wrapped up the victory when Chris Gore triumphed on the first extra hole and Helen Roy grabbed the last point.

Group 4

Daventry secured back-to-back home wins against Kingsthorpe and Priors Hall to take the early lead at the top.

Although Jacquie Bailey recorded a thumping victory in the opening tie against Kingsthorpe, four of the other six games went the distance as Daventry won by a point. Against Prios, once Daventry opened up a 3-1 lead, they never looked back as comfortable wins for Valerie Denny, Gill Leppard and Lynda Partis completed the home scoring. Priors lost 5-2 at Northants County as home quartet Louise Hemingway, Diana Murkin, Vivienne McManus and Diana Wells bagged victories.

Ladies Intermediate League

Anita Cordery beat Suzanne Silvester on the 18th hole to secure a 2-1 victory for Elton Furze against Overstone Park in their Ladies Intermediate League match at Northants County GC.

Karen Henderson took the opening tie for Elton, before Chris Gore grabbed a consolation point for Overstone.

The other match followed the same pattern as Northampton defeated Peterborough by the same scoreline, thanks to early points from Charlie Astbury and Katie Amos. Rachael Fisher grabbed Milton’s win.

Holes-in-one

Eighty-year-old Laurie Johnson had plenty to celebrate after bagging two holes-in-one in consecutive months on the third hole on his home course at Northants County.

Johnson, who has been a member of the club for more than 50 years, found the bottom of the cup with a six iron in early March whilst competing in the Senior’s Brampton Ram event.

Just six weeks later and with the tee being pushed back slightly further for the April Midweek Stableford, the 15-handicapper’s decision to go for one extra club proved correct as his ball once again dropped in the hole.

The past captain said: “The days have gone where I could carry the ball all the way to the green but these days, of hitting the ball lower, I have to hit it short to run on to the green.

“On both occasions, it came from the left side - the natural slope of the green and rolled into the hole, twice!”

If that wasn’t remarkable enough, the two holes-in-one are the eighth and ninth of his life, after posting five more at County, and two at Northampton Golf Club’s old Kettering Road course.

At the other end of the age scale, 12-year-old Luca Brown also bagged a hole-in-one at neighbouring Brampton Heath last 
month.

The Kettering youngster’s moment of perfection came on at the fourth on the short course whilst playing in a SJGT pitch n putt competition. Max Faulkner and Fabien Clark (Staverton) were first in their respective divisions.