GOLF: Salter and Darnell claim NGL Matchplay titles

CHAMPION - Northants County's Charlie Salter
CHAMPION - Northants County's Charlie Salter

Northants County’s Charlie Salter and Ellie Darnell of Wellingborough capped wonderful seasons by winning the NGL Boys and Girls Matchplay titles respectively at Northampton.

Salter, who lifted the County Men’s Strokeplay trophy this year, beat Corey Neville 3&2 in the semi-finals, before overcoming County Boys Strokeplay champion Liam McNeela by the same score in the final.

Darnell completed the 2017 County Girls Strokeplay and Matchplay double as she defeated Ashleigh Critchley (Kettering) on the 16th hole in the final.

NGL Junior Grand Final

Hattie Billson found her best form on her home course in the NGL Junior Grand Final as the Northants County member carded a brilliant one-over-par winning round of gross 76.

Ellie Darnell (Wellingborough) won the net competition with a net 73, while Leah Ribano and Katie Amos (both Northampton), plus Overstone Park’s Baylie Pyke, also picked up prizes.

Local knowledge proved vital in the Boys competition as Liam McNeela took the gross plaudits ahead of home club-mates Harry Oddy and Corey Neville, thanks to a round of 72.

Elliot Strickland, who qualified for the Grand Final after finishing first in the Order of Merit, secured the net honours from fellow Northampton members Henry Edwards and Ben Lavender.

Although he was ineligible for the Grand Final prizes, Charlie Salter had the pleasure of shooting the best round as the County member fired a magnificent three-under-par 67.

Midlands Boys County Cup

NORTHANTS Boys grabbed another top prize as they won the team competition in the Midland’s Under-16 Boys County Cup by two strokes with a combined score of 379 at The Leicestershire.

The side of Robin Williams (Peterborough Milton), Max Hayward (Staverton), Harry Oddy, Luis Witherall and Joe Quinn (all Northants County) and Max Faulkner (Brampton Heath) finished ahead of Nottinghamshire.

Northamptonshire came close to completing a double as Witherall and Williams carded 72 and 73 to finish second and third respectively in the individual, behind Nottinghamshire’s Oscar Bartram, who shot 67.

Robert Rock Junior Open

Eight-year-old Jack Meakin had the thrill of meeting European Tour professional Robert Rock after winning his Junior Open at Beeston Fields in Nottinghamshire.

Despite being one of the youngest players in the field, the Wellingborough member was successful in the 10-hole competition, thanks to a score of 26 points.

The victory came just 24 hours after he clinched the SJGT Copper Division Order of Merit by winning the Grand Final at Northampton with 21 points over nine holes.

Kingsthorpe’s Thomas Freeman came out on top in the Silver Division Order of Merit after finishing runner-up in his 18-hole category in the Grand Final.

Elijah Woodward (Kingsthorpe), Ben Atherton (Kettering), Bobby Moore (Peterborough Milton), Euan Cadle (Staverton Park) and Harrison Taylor (Northants County) also collected prizes.

Critchley comes up short

Ashleigh Critchley just missed out on qualification for the 2018 Jakarta World Junior Golf Championships after the 13-year-old finished runner-up in a qualifying event on British Junior Golf Tour.

Competing at Magnolia Park in Oxfordshire, the Kettering member carded the joint-best score in the Girls 13-14 age group but was beaten on the second play-off hole by Louise Burke (Broadstone, Dorset).

Critchley has already qualified for the 2018 IMG Academy Junior World Championships in California.

Boyd misses out on Grand Final appearance

Gary Boyd came up short in his bid to join fellow county pro Ryan Evans in the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final as he finished out of the reckoning in the Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge in the UAE.

Needing a very high finish to secure a top 45 spot in the end-of-year Challenge Tour rankings, the Cherwell Edge golfer looked well placed towards the end of his second round as he sat just one off the lead.

Unfortunately Boyd couldn’t improve on his opening two scores of 69 as he posted 71 and 74 over the weekend to drop back into 42nd place as he ended up 123rd in the overall standings.

By contrast, Wellingborough’s Evans, who had already secured his European Tour card for 2018, was once again in good form as he compiled 71, 69 and 70, before bagging six birdies in a sublime

closing round of 67 to finish 12th.

Evans goes into the Grand Final this week in sixth place in the Order of Merit as he looks to follow in the footsteps of previous Challenge Tour champions Henrik Stenson, Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and Thomas Bjørn.

LETAS Grand Final

Meghan MacLaren was delighted to pick up the Ladies European Tour Access Series Order of Merit trophy at the end of her first full year as a professional golfer.

After guaranteeing a card on the main Ladies European Tour for 2018 with a collection of excellent results, the Wellingborough player says she is proud of her achievements over the last 12 months.

MacLaren, who is still hoping to join fellow county pro Charley Hull on next year’s LPGA Tour in the USA after making it through to Final Qualifying, admits the switch from the amateur ranks has provided a big learning curve.

She said: “Winning the LETAS Order of Merit is something I’m proud of. It reflects one of the most important and under-rated parts of golf - consistency.

“I feel like I have learned more about my golf in this one year as compared to my entire amateur career. Thank you to everyone that’s been a part of it.”

MacLaren’s last appearance on the LETAS was in the Grand Final at Campo de Golf El Saler as she carded three birdies in the last five holes to finish in 27th place.

The result in Spain meant she topped the overall standings with 21,985 points - more than 7,000 ahead of her closest rival.