GOLF: McNeela’s the man as he claims County title

Liam McNeela pictured with the trophy after winning the County Men's Championship at Northampton GC
Liam McNeela pictured with the trophy after winning the County Men's Championship at Northampton GC

Liam McNeela became County Men’s champion for the first time in stunning fashion as he beat Northants County club-mates Luis Witherall and Michael Farr in a three-hole play-off at Northampton GC.

The Scratch golfer parred the 16th and 17th holes, before holing a five-footer for a winning birdie on the 18th hole.

McNeela tied for first place in the 36-hole main event after carding another birdie on the closing hole as he added a magnificent blemish-free 66 to a morning score of 73.

Witherall, whose 16th birthday was two days after the competition, bagged six birdies in an opening 68 to lead at the half way stage by one from Farr, before both players went on to finish on 139.

With McNeela, Witherall and Farr combining to win the team competition, County completed a clean sweep of the main prizes as Owen Watts took the net plaudits with a seven-under-par score.

US Open

NORTHANTS professional Ryan Evans says he enjoyed the experience of competing in his first overseas major after taking part in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills.

Despite receiving some words of advice from former champion Rory McIlroy on the eve of the tournament, the 31-year-old, who played in the Open Championship in 2016, missed the cut with two scores of 78.

Wellingborough’s Evans, who came into the event as a first reserve after just missing out in qualifying a week earlier at Walton Heath, maintains it was still good fun as he competed against the world’s best on a very difficult course.

He said: “Not meant to be this year at the US Open but what a great experience. Hope everyone enjoyed it – I really enjoyed myself out there.

“Can honestly say it’s the hardest golf course I’ve ever played. Thanks for the continued support.”

Midlands Golf Union

NORTHANTS’ six-man team produced one of their best performances for years in the England Golf County Championships Midland Qualifying event as they finished fourth at Coxmoor Golf Club in Nottinghamshire.

Charlie Salter enhanced his growing reputation by claiming second place in

the individual as he posted rounds of 72 and 68 to finish three shots behind Simon Richardson, who helped Lincolnshire secure the team prize.

Michael Farr finished 16th, Matt Myers and

Ferguson Robertson were 23rd and 24th respectively, while Jamie Milligan and Mikey Chambers also represented Northamptonshire with distinction.

Collingtree keep their hopes alive

Collingtree Park kept alive their chances of progressing through to the semi-finals of the NGL Hollingsworth Trophy with a battling 3-2 home victory against Brampton Heath in Group A.

Although the visitors took the opening two games, Collingtree secured games three and four with holes to spare, before Jensen Parfitt and Josh Sampson won the 18th to clinch the last match.

Group D

Staverton Park will need to beat Northants County in a winner-takes-all home match after slipping to a 4-1 away defeat to Kettering.

Although Kettering are out of contention for qualification for the last four, they won two matches with holes to spare, before showing their spirit by taking two more points on the 18th hole.

Staverton secured a crucial point in the last game, meaning current leaders Overstone will now almost certainly drop to second in the table on points difference regardless of whether Staverton or County triumph at the end of the month.

NGL Intermediate League

Northampton avenged their defeat to Kingsthorpe in the 2017 final with a comprehensive 6½-1½ victory in their opening fixture this year at Wellingborough GC.

Martin Izzard (5&4), Gary Slinn (4&3), Ben Lavender (5&3) and Sam Gilkes (4&2) were in top form, while Chris Kay and Gareth Parker were both successful on the 18th hole.

Collingtree, who were champions in 2016, were only marginally less impressive as they recorded a 5½-2½ victory against Overstone Park with Jensen Parfitt (5&4) and Ray Connolly (3&2) enjoying the biggest wins.

NGL Handicap League

Group B

Delapre collected their first win of the season with a 13-4 home success against Cherwell Edge, who registered their first victory of the campaign a couple of days earlier with a walkover away win at Silverstone.

Group C

Brampton Heath’s strong tail proved crucial in their home contest with previously-unbeaten Wellingborough as they recorded a 13-1 victory to move clear at the top.

Leading by a single point after the opening three games, Brampton seized control, thanks to Gary James and Ben Morris (three holes), Andrew Gosling and Damien Heffernan (two holes) and Ian Patton and David Masters (six holes).

Group D

Hellidon Lakes edged a thrilling away contest with Priors Hall by the scoreline 9-7, thanks to a good run of late results.

Jim Collins and Callum Milne (four holes) and Paul Briggs and Paul Fennessy (three holes) put the hosts in control early on, before Hellidon seized the initiative on the back of a five-hole win from Bob Thomson and Duncan Childs.

Kingsthorpe were also victorious on their travels as a six-hole success from Oliver Haywood and Leigh Woodward in the opening tie helped them record a 10-5 win.

NGL Ladies Scratch League

Defending champions Whittlebury Park grabbed their first victory of the season with a 3-0 success against Northampton at Wellingborough GC.

Kerry Sumner, Christina Hancock and Rayner Edwards secured the points.

Northants County, who beat Whittlebury in the opening round of fixtures, made it two wins out of two as they edged past Overstone Park, for whom Baylie Pyke (5&4) secured a point.

NGL Ladies Cecil Leitch

Group B

Cold Ashby produced a dominant home display against Delapre as they recorded a series of big wins on their way to a 6-1 success.

Tracy Batch (8&7), Rose Dempsey (8&6) and Marguerite Kraus-Rudder (5&4) were particularly impressive.

Group C

Northants County kept their nerve in most of the close matches as they earned a 4-3 home success against Overstone Park.

Kate James took the opening point 2&1 for the hosts, before wins from Mary Wetherly. Diana Murkin and Dawn Mallard-Parker, all on the 18th hole, sealed the County victory.

Group D

Kingsthorpe collected their first away victory of the campaign as a strong start helped them secure a 4-3 win at Brampton Heath.

Maddy Henderson (3&2) and Juanita Pryer (2&1) clinched the opening two ties.

Irene McGowan (2&1) then added another point in game four, before Nadia Anderson grabbed a decisive victory against Bryony Travill on the 18th hole.