GOLF: Champ Claire out to retain County title

The Northants Girls team enjoyed a 9-3 friendly win over Warwickshire at Kenilworth
The Northants Girls team enjoyed a 9-3 friendly win over Warwickshire at Kenilworth

Northampton’s Claire Lindsay begins the defence of her NGL County Ladies Championships crown on Friday with 36-hole strokeplay qualifying at Wellingborough GC.

Lindsay, who won the title for the first time at Northants County 12 months ago, has been paired with former champion and home club member Carl Gibbs.

With the leading eight ladies from the 25-player field progressing into the knockout stages over the weekend, last year’s runner-up Ellie Darnell will be one of the favourites on her home course.

Previous winners Mary MacLaren and Karen Lobb will hope to use all their experience in a competition that includes County Girls team members Hattie Billson, Ashleigh Critchley, Baylie Pyke and Leah Ribano.

NGL County Girls

NORTHANTS’ Girls team will go into their 2018 East Midlands League campaign in fine fettle after they inflicted a 9-3 friendly defeat on Warwickshire at Kenilworth GC.

County Girls champion Ellie Darnell and Charlotte Gilkes set the tone with a couple of 8&7 wins, County captain Hattie Billson added a 6&4 victory, before Katie Amos, Jade Roberts and Leah Ribano completed a cleansweep of the gross ties.

Northants also won three of the remaining six Handicap and Experience matches as Sophie Copson, Hannah Talbot, Shivani Sundaram, Elise Warden, Chelsey Sharp and Amy Nunn represented their county with distinction.

Anglian League

Callum Farr and Luis Witherall will provide the spearhead for Northants’ first team as they start their Anglian League campaign against Leicestershire & Rutland at Wellingborough GC on Sunday.

Both players will be full of confidence after Farr won the prestigious Selborne Salver recently, while 15-year-old Witherall received his first England call-up to face Spain in an Under-16s international later this month.

The Northants second team also has a strong look for the reverse fixture at Cosby GC as the experienced Fraser Carnihan, Richard Dalton and James Barker are joined by some of the best up-and-coming golfers in the county.

European Tour Sixes

Charley Hull says the 2018 GolfSixes was a big success for the women’s game after being part of one of the two female teams to reach the quarter-finals at Centurion Club.

Competing alongside Georgie Hall in a mixed European Tour event, the Kettering golfer helped the English Ladies finished second in their group, before losing to eventual winners Ireland Men in the last eight.

With teams of two competing over six holes in a greensomes matchplay format, the GolfSixes is aimed at attracting a new, younger golf audience in the UK - something Hull believes is needed.

The 22-year-old said: “It was good. Especially coming from the range to the first tee, the young children, it was very nice to see out there.”

Fellow Northamptonshire pro Ryan Evans meanwhile has an opportunity to show his skills to the UK audience later this month after gaining an entry to play in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth from May 24.

NGL Hollingsworth Trophy

Group A

Farthingstone got their first victory of the season as Sam Bird and Richard Marsh won a vital point on the 18th hole in a 3-2 home success against Brampton Heath.

Ian Donald and Adam Smith (6&4) and Simon Nightingale and David Summerfield (6&5) both enjoyed big home wins.

But with points difference possibly being crucial in a group where no team has won away, Brampton took both of the last two ties on the 17th hole.

Group C

Kettering B have set a target of six points at the summit of Group C after completing their campaign with a 3-2 home success against Whittlebury Park.

The visitors took games one and three, but Kettering veteran Mick Reed combined with Graham Jones to keep the match alive on the 18th, before in-form Lee Smith and Keith Althorpe (5&4) and Jim Campbell and Dave Draper (3&2) secured the win.

Despite being the only team with an away victory, Kettering’s relatively poor points difference means they will probably be overtaken if Whittlebury, Daventry or Peterborough Milton can match their record of three wins from four outings.

Group D

Staverton Park moved above Northants County to the top of the Group D table after a 5-0 home whitewash of Overstone Park.

Michael Franklin and Paul Hammond (6&4), Stuart Trigwell and Andrew Swain (4&3) and Russell Brown and Michael Christie (7&6) confirmed the victory, before two wins on the closing hole completed the perfect day.

Staverton and County, who have both recorded one home win and one away win, will meet in the last match of the season.

NGL Ladies Cecil Leitch

Group A

Wellingborough displayed their ruthless streak against Kettering as they backed up their 7-0 away victory against the same opponents with a 6-1 home success.

Ida Huggins, Emma Maziak, Liz Rees, Pat Briggs, Marianne Price and Susan Sharp were all on the scoresheet for the hosts, after Kathryn Stronach had clinched the first point for Kettering.

Staverton Park joined Wellingborough on maximum points after securing their second victory of 2018 with a 5-2 home success against Northampton - Denise Aitchison, Ann Cox, Tracy Lane, Jane Clifford and Jane Hall earning the wins.

Group B

Rushden are still searching for their first victory of the campaign after losing 5-2 at Delapre Park.

Despite a 4-3 home reverse to Oundle in their opening match of the year, Rushden started brightly as Karen Findlay and Ali Thornhill bagged two of the opening three ties.

A narrow defeat for Elizabeth Hall in the second game was the closest Rushden came to grabbing another point however as Delapre enjoyed good wins in the last four matches.

Group C

Northants County edged a tight away contest at Overstone Park as Andrea Alston won on the first extra hole against Shirley Morton to secure a narrow team victory.

NGL Ladies Scratch League

Whittlebury Park’s title defence got off to a losing start as they went down 2-1 against Northants County at Overstone Park.

Wellingborough quickly emerged as the team to beat this season as they defeated Northampton 3-0, thanks to convincing wins from Ellie Darnell and Carol Gibbs, plus another point from Mary MacLaren.