GOLF: Jones and Williams steer county juniors to the top
Northamptonshire are looking to build on another magnificent year of junior golf after the County topped the standings in the 2017 England Golf Boys Order of Merit.
The team success was built around the performances of England internationals Ben Jones of Northants County and Robin Williams of Peterborough Milton, who finished first and second in the individual category.
Liam McNeela and Charlie Salter, both of Northants County, also had good seasons as Northamptonshire forced Yorkshire, Surrey and Berks, Bucks & Oxon into the minor places in the rankings.
With other county boys and girls picking up regional individual and team trophies, the NGL have already set their sights on improving in 2018 and beyond.
To help in this process, the county are looking to appoint a new Academy junior co-ordinator, with the main responsibility of organising the Junior Order of Merit.
The 2017 series, which concludes this week with the Moulton College Grand Final at Northants County, and the 2017 Junior League has seen more than 100 boys and girls take part.
NGL Scratch KO Final
Northampton’s Lewis White (inset) added another title to his list of honours after winning the 36-hole County Scratch KO Final with a victory over Danny Roberts (Northants County).
The County first team player, who missed out on a hat-trick of Champion of Champions crowns on his home course earlier in the month, was in no mood to let this title slip through his grasp as he strolled to a 10&8 win.
NGL Generation Cup
Overstone Park’s Emily Nunn successfully joined forces with her dad James over nine holes at Kingsthorpe as they posted 23 points to win the NGL Generation Cup.
Emily’s sister Amy Nunn came in second alongside her partner Gill Osborne (Overstone) with the Northampton father-and-daughter combination of Steve Copson and Sophie Copson in third on countback.
NPGA Winter Pro-Am
Experienced county professional Simon Lilly is hoping to continue his brilliant start to the winter season as he chases a fourth successive NPGA Pro-Am win in the Collingtree Park Pro-Am on Thursday. After topping the scoreboard in the opening three events at Kettering, Northants County and Whittlebury Park, Lilly will be up against a strong field in the 18-hole competition.
Charley Hull’s second successive tournament on the Asian continent saw her claim a share of 27th place in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.
After finishing sixth in South Korea last week, the Kettering golfer was excellent from tee to green again but couldn’t convert the birdie opportunities this time as she shot rounds of 74, 71, 71 and 72.
Hull, who is playing in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia this week, is building up to the defence of her CME Group Tour Championship title next month in Florida.
Meghan MacLaren advanced into the final stage of 2018 LPGA Tour qualifying by finishing third in the second stage at Plantation in Florida.
Needing to finish in the top 80 to progress, the Wellingborough professional carded an opening 72 on the Bobcat course, added scores of 69 and 70 on the Panther layout, before carding four successive birdies in a final round 68 at Bobcat.
In an excellent first full season as a pro, MacLaren will be crowned Ladies European Tour Access Series Order of Merit champion this week when she competes in the last event at Parador de El Saler, Spain.
The 23-year-old is already guaranteed top spot in the rankings after winning the Azores Ladies Open and recording top-10 finishes in five other events.
MacLaren also has her sights on another award as she is second in the 2017 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year standings. After entering the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi next week, she is hoping to close the gap on leader Jenny Haglund (Sweden).
Evans earns a place on Tour
Ryan Evans will be playing on the European Tour next year after regaining his card with another high finish on the Challenge Tour.
The Wellingborough pro, who played on the main tour for the first time last season, grabbed his eighth top-10 finish of the year by securing a share of third prize in the Foshan Open in China.
After shooting two rounds of 70 to make the cut, the 30-year-old rose up the leaderboard
after carding six birdies and no dropped shots in a magnificent 66 on day three.
With the event having the biggest purse on the Challenge Tour in 2017, Evans kept his composure on the final day
as he bagged three consecutive early birdies in a closing 70.
Despite dropping from sixth to seventh in the Order of Merit, the former Northamptonshire amateur champion has already accumulated enough points to guarantee a European Tour place for 2018.
Evans said: “Thanks to all my friends and family and girlfriend for all your support not just this year but throughout my golfing career.
“It’s been a great season on the Challenge Tour this year.
“I notched up my first win in Turkey and it feels great to get a tied third in China to secure my European Tour card.”