GOLF: Collingtree’s McNeela claims NGL Boys’ Matchplay title

CHAMPION PERFORMANCE - Collingtree's Liam McNeela
CHAMPION PERFORMANCE - Collingtree's Liam McNeela
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Liam McNeela of Collingtree Park capped an excellent season by winning the NGL Boys Matchplay crown with victory over Charlie Salter (Northants County) in the final at Wellingborough GC.

The 17-year-old, who completed the men’s and boys club championship double at his home club earlier in the summer, edged out England Boys international Salter on the 19th hole.

Natasha Ainsley-Thomas

Natasha Ainsley-Thomas

McNeela had already needed three additional holes to get the better of Fergus Robinson (County) in his morning last four tie.

Salter, meanwhile completed a 5&4 semi-final win against Kettering’s Jordan Darnell, who responded by taking third place with a 3&1 victory over Robinson.

NGL Girls Matchplay

Natasha Ainsley-Thomas (Whittlebury Park) grabbed the NGL Girls Matchplay crown with two narrow wins in the semi-final and final at Wellingborough GC.

The 18-year-old, who won the County Girls Strokeplay crown earlier this year, needed one extra hole to defeat Millie Billson (Northants County) in the last four.

After coming into the event on the back of setting a new course record at her home club, Ainsley-Thomas secured another top prize by beating club-mate Rayner Edwards down the last in the final.

Billson finished third with a 3&2 win against Northampton’s Katie Amos, who will take a lot from the event after beating county first team player Becky MacLaren on the way to the last four.

NGL Izzard Trophy

Home advantage proved crucial in the re-arranged NGL Izzard Trophy as Dennis Mathers, David Eason and Peter Rigby triumphed on their own course at Cold Ashby GC.

With the event having been postponed earlier in the month due to heavy rain, Mathers made the most of local knowledge as the five-handicapper bagged an impressive tally of 39 points.

He was ably supported by Eason and Rigby as their team score of 99 points lifted them one clear of the chasing pack.

In a team event which pitches a low, medium and high handicapper together, the Collingtree trio of Sam Mennell, Brendon Moss and Nick Stuart finished runners-up by four from Northants County.

Kettering’s Asif Manji and Oundle duo Chris Dix and Jeremy Nicholas collected individual prizes in their respective divisions.

NGL Junior Team

NORTHANTS under-16s team showed their battling qualities in the Midlands County Cup team event as they finished runners-up at Great Barr GC.

With the best five rounds from six going towards the total, Northants were hampered by the withdrawal through illness of England Boys international Charlie Salter on the eve of the competition.

In the knowledge that all scores would count, Robin Williams, Yeong Bin Lee and Harry Oddy all rose to the challenge by finishing in the individual top 10.

But the County couldn’t completely overcome the loss of one player as the other two rounds were both in the 80s meaning the team finished eight shots behind winners Staffordshire.

NGL Foursomes

Northants County’s Andy Billson and Jason Hall held their nerve in a fluctuating Foursomes KO Final with Wellingborough duo Paul Hughes and Chris Ludwig at Overstone Park GC.

Back-to-back birdies either side of the turn looked to have put the County pair in command only for Wellingborough to fight back by winning the 12th and 13th holes.

A great chip from Ludwig helped win the penultimate hole to level the match but Wellingborough’s tee shot on the 18th went out of bounds, allowing County the chance to seal a narrow victory.

In the Handicap Singles Knockout final, Brampton Heath’s Elliott Metcalfe was on top form as he recorded a comfortable 6&5 win against Darren Matthews (Northampton).

Shires Junior Golf Tour

Overstone Park teenager Elise Warden won a family holiday to La Manga Club in Spain after shooting the best score of 44 points in the Shires Junior Golf Tour Grand Final at The Leicestershire GC.

The 13-year-old, who carded two gross birdies on the outward stretch, nudged a couple of points ahead of long-time leader Elliot Strickland (Northampton).

Kettering’s Theo Brown topped the Gold Division on 37 points as he collected a signed shirt by Branden Grace, who is in the world’s top 20, with a countback victory from Liam McNeela (Collingtree).

Hendon’s Zak Rzymkowski, who has been playing in the top section for most of the season, won the Silver Division with 40 points.