Northamptonshire men’s first team are on the verge of their first Anglian League crown for six years after thrashing Cambridgeshire 10½-1½ in their penultimate match at Wellingborough GC.
Despite losing the opening foursomes tie, the team led 3-1 at lunch, thanks to two good wins and a battling victory from debutante Tom Bullough and Michael Farr.
Although several key players were missing from the starting line-up, Northants displayed their strength in depth by dominating the afternoon singles.
County champion Charlie Salter, Mikey Chambers, Lewis White and Fraser Carnihan confirmed the team victory with confident wins. Bullough, Farr and Miles Mudge added further points, before a half from Ryan Connolly completed the scoring.
Northants now sit level at the top of the standings, with a significantly better points difference, than rivals Lincolnshire and defending champions Leicestershire, who they face in their last match.
The county know that victory, and possibly even a draw depending on how well Lincolnshire get on at bottom side Suffolk, should clinch a third title in the 38-year history of the annual team event.
Northamptonshire’s second team lost to Cambridgeshire 7½-4½ as Leicestershire retained their title with a game to spare.
Northamptonshire youngsters enjoyed plenty of success in the Faldo Series Midlands Championship at Trentham GC as Callum Farr and Tiger Adams qualified for the Grand Final at Laguna Lang Co, Vietnam.
In an event whose previous winners include Rory McIlroy, Priors Hall’s Farr fired rounds of 73, 69 and 71 to nudge ahead of Northants County’s Matt Myers, who led by three going into the last round.
The Under-18 Boys competition went to Adams as he sank a 20-footer for birdie on the closing hole in a final round 74 to secure a one stroke victory after opening scores of 74 and 75.
England international Farr backed up his victory by clinching the Birkdale Silver Goblet by four strokes at 2017 Open Championship venue Royal Birkdale after posting 71 and a magnificent seven-under-par 65.
Wellingborough pro Meghan MacLaren made an excellent debut in the British Par 3 Championships as she finished in a tie for fourth place at Nailcote Hall GC.
In a field including Ryder Cup legends Ian Woosnam and Paul Lawrie, MacLaren carded 27 on a rain-interrupted first day, before shooting a two-under-par total of 52 to finish three behind winner Richard O'Hanlon.
Fellow county pro Charley Hull was not involved as she was getting herself prepared to compete for Europe in the Solheim Cup match against USA from Friday.
Wellingborough strengthened their position at the top of the table with a 6½-1½ home success against Priors Hall.
Elliot Morgan, Adam Sherlock, Chris Howes, Tiger Adams, Jon Harris and Mark Davis grabbed points as Wellingborough secured their fifth win in seven outings.
Priors were also beaten in their next outing as they went down 5-3 at home to Overstone Park, whose wins came from Andrew MacDonald, Jack Binch, Luke Barney and Mikey Chambers.
Defending champions Northants County suffered their third consecutive away loss as Peterborough Milton earned a 6-2 home success.
Cold Ashby avenged a home defeat to Staverton Park earlier in the season as they won the reverse fixture by the scoreline 5½-2½.
The away victory rarely looked in doubt after Bradley Green, Jim Burberry and Kevin Basson strolled in with the first three points.
Collingtree Park won three games on the 18th hole as they recorded a 4-4 draw with closest title rivals Kettering, for whom Nick Keech, Jim Campbell, Theo Brown and Marc Asher impressed.
Kettering remain two points clear at the top having played two games more after edging a one-point win at Whittlebury the previous weekend.
Points from Brown, Dean McIntyre, Chris Ward and Jordan Darnell, plus a half from Campbell made the difference.
Whittlebury, who play Collingtree at home and away in their next two outings, kept alive their chances of going up with a 7½-½ home thumping of bottom side Stoke Albany.
Collingtree Park became the first team to earn a 8-0 whitewash victory since the Intermediate League changed to neutral venues three years ago as they thrashed Overstone Park at Kingsthorpe GC.
Mark Spring, Joe Mennell, Dave Wright, Andrew Dennis, Joe Johnson, Stuart Robinson, Kevin Parfitt and Rob Horton grabbed the points for the reigning champions.
It was a slightly different story the previous weekend as Collingtree’s 4-4 draw with leaders Northampton was one of two thrilling matches at Wellingborough GC as Cold Ashby edged out Kettering 5-3.
Although Adam Kerr, Jamie Kerr and James Lovett recorded wins for Ashby, they needed to rely on four halved games to secure the team victory.
Whittlebury Park took a giant stride towards clinching the title with a 2-1 victory over defending champions Wellingborough at Northants County GC.
Although both teams went into the contest with an unblemished record, it was Whittlebury who took the plaudits thanks to big wins from Natasha Ainsley-Thomas (5&4) and Christina Hancock (6&5).
Ellie Darnell’s narrow victory in the other tie meant Wellingborough still have a chance of snatching top spot but they will need Whittlebury lose to Northampton, who were beaten 2-1 by Overstone Park in their latest fixture.
Alison Irvine, Jane Petts, Helen Brownless and Linda Sherry secured a countback victory in the County Ladies Fourball Am-Am at Wellingborough GC.
The Northampton quartet bagged 82 points to squeeze out the Kettering trio of Sally Bingham, Kathryn Stronach and Suzanne Hope, who combined with Kingsthorpe’s Rosie Cullis.
NGL Junior League
Northampton jumped above reigning champions Peterborough Milton A to the summit of Group D after a thumping 4-0 home success against Priors Hall.
Ben Lavender and Katie Amos took the opening two points on the 17th hole, Max Smith added a 3&2 win, before Jade Potter capped the perfect day with a 9&8 success in the last tie.
In Group C, Staverton Park went top after a 3-1 home victory over previous leaders Northampton, whose only point came from Ethan La Porta.
Northants County defeated Rushden 15-4 at home in the last Group A game as they finished third behind Hellidon Lakes and Brampton Heath, who progress through a semi-final with Oundle. Collingtree and Cold Ashby will meet in the other last four tie in September.
Charley Hull cemented her status as one of the key golfers in the 2017 Solheim Cup team by finishing 16th in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns GC, Scotland.
The Kettering golfer was confirmed by European team captain Annika Sörenstam as one of the 12 players in the squad after shooting rounds of 68, 71, 71 and 70 over the weekend.
With the match against the USA taking place at Des Moines GC in Iowa from August 18th, the 21-year-old will be looking to maintain her brilliant record in the event of six wins in eight games.
English golfers Georgia Hall, Florentyna Parker, Mel Reid and British Open runner-up Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who partnered Hull in her rookie appearance four years ago, also made the team.
Simon Purkiss and Stephen Smail earned a convincing pairs win for Peterborough Milton as the team beat Farthingstone 3-2 in the semi-final at Northants County GC.
The other two significant results came in the opening two ties as Dominic Ralfs and Martin Humphries took the first game on the 18th, before Scott O’Connor and Bob Duthie won the last hole to seal Milton’s victory.
Northampton defeated Kingsthorpe by the same scoreline to secure their place in the final on Sunday, August 27th at Overstone Park GC.
Tom Forster (Oundle) served notice of his burgeoning talent on his way to reaching the last 16 of the English Amateur Championship at The Berkshire.
After scores of 71 and 70 in strokeplay qualifying, Forster defeated Bailey Gill (Lindrick) 3&1 in round two, before getting the better of Mark Hyde (Southport & Ainsdale) on the 19th hole.
The youngster’s fourth round match also went to extra holes, but hopes of a quarter-final spot were dashed by Tom Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge), who triumphed on the second play-off hole.
Fellow county juniors Robin Williams (Peterborough Milton) and Ben Jones (Northants County) also made it through to the knockout stages.
Williams, who birdied the 18th to make the cut with a level par total, beat Cameron Long in the preliminary round before losing to David Corben, while Ben Jones, who qualified in 26th place with two rounds of 70, lost to Timothy Shin.
Northampton began the season with a battling performance in Group D
as they secured a 2-2 draw at reigning champions Peterborough Milton A.
Although Rylan Thomas and Euan Herson bagged home points with holes to spare, Northampton duo Ben Lavender and Jordan Matthews grabbed a share of the team spoils with wins down the last.
Local knowledge proved crucial for Priors Hall against Wellingborough as they secured a 3-1 victory in their opening contest.
Jake Sheridan grabbed the first point on the 18th, Alex Rowlatt doubled the home lead in the next tie, before Adam Kilby wrapped up the win with a 3&2 success in game four. Wellingborough’s point came from Thomas Ray.
In Group C, Thomas Sandiford’s 4&3 victory and a one-hole success for Finn Hamill made the difference for Northants County B as they got the better of Staverton Park 2½-1½.
Wellingborough took a significant step towards their first title since 1984 with a one-point home success against defending champions Northants County.
Despite recording the only away victories in the top flight at Priors Hall and Peterborough Milton, the hosts made a slow start as County took games one, three and four.
Wellingborough emphasised their strength of character as Gary Grimmitt, Richard Brown, Jon Harris and Ryan Connolly collected big wins, before Mark Davis confirmed the home victory by halving the last tie.
Milton collected their second victory of the campaign as they recorded a series of comfortable individual wins in a 6-2 home success against Priors Hall.
Kingsthorpe recorded their fifth win in five outings this season as they defeated Cold Ashby 6½-1½ at home.
With Jack Walding, Jason Spence and Gary Hardy and Matt Landers taking the opening four points, the only debate was whether the hosts could record a whitewash success.
Although those hopes disappeared when Dan Blackmore lost to Dennis Mathers, everyone else contributed as the team moved to within one point of promotion.
Collingtree Park made it back-to-back 7-1 home victories as they thrashed Stoke Albany to go top of the standings.
After beating Kettering the previous month, Collingtree made a confident start as Ray Connolly, Liam Davies, Arjun Shah and Neil Abery secured big wins.
Trevor Twelftree, Conor Rosling and Andy Castell added further home points, before Graeme Eadie avoided the whitewash by winning the 18th hole for Stoke Albany.
Ryan Evans moved a step closer to regaining his European Tour card for 2018 as he climbed up to fifth in the Challenge Tour rankings after taking eighth in the Finnish Challenge event.
With the leading 15 players in the end-of-season charts gaining full playing rights on the main Tour next year, the Wellingborough pro secured his third successive top 10 finish at Vierumӓki GC.
Evans, who played on the European Tour in 2016, carded scores of 71, 67 and 66 but was denied an opportunity to challenge for his second victory of the year when the last day was cancelled due to torrential rain.
Brampton Heath qualified for the last four after Northants County did their neighbours a favour with a superb 10-4 victory at closest rivals Hellidon Lakes.
Scott Jelley and Antony Elderton (three holes) and Ryan Grant and Neil Taylor (four holes) were the biggest away winners.
Cold Ashby booked a semi-final spot in clinical fashion as they made it seven wins in seven matches by beating Delapre at home and Daventry away.
Karl Byron and Jonathan Smith (five holes) impressed in the second tie against Delapre, while James Needham and Duncan Tucker wrapped up a 24-0 victory with a six-hole success in the last game.
With qualification already confirmed, the team followed it up with a brilliant comeback win at Daventry as they took the last four games in a 10-7 victory.
Priors Hall fell just short of their bid to book a place in the last four as a 12-1 home victory against leaders Oundle meant they missed out on top spot on points difference.
Needing to win by a margin of 14 points, the Corby club looked on course when Sean Aitchison and Callum Milne gave them a 12-0 lead, only for the visitors to grab a half and a one-point win in the remaining games.
Oundle came into the last round of fixtures in prime position after beating closest rivals Kettering 10-7 at home. Denis Price and Martin Camp’s six-hole success in the opening tie sent the hosts on their way.
Wellingborough completed an unsuccessful qualifying campaign on a high thanks to a battling 7-5 victory at Silverstone.
With Collingtree having already guaranteed top spot in their final match, Wellingborough took second place on the back of wins from Dave Bailey and Charlie Higgins (two holes) and Ashley Connolly and David Hawkins (five holes).
Leading county professional Charley Hull is approaching the biggest month of her year as she competes in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links, Scotland from August 3rd.
As well as chasing a first victory in a major, the Kettering pro is also expected to be confirmed as a member of the European Solheim Cup team to play the USA at Des Moines GCC, Iowa in mid-August.
With the 12-player squad set to be announced at the end of the British Open by captain Annika Sorenstam, the 21-year-old is positioned in one of the automatic qualifying spots due to her world ranking of 25.
As Europe look to regain the Solheim Cup after a narrow defeat two years ago, Hull will be aiming to extend her own fine record in the match after winning six points out of a possible eight in her two appearances.
Northamptonshire Boys team reached the Anglian League final on August 21st after thrashing Leicestershire and Lincolnshire in the qualifier at Brampton Heath GC.
With county men’s champ Charlie Salter and county first team player Liam McNeela in the side, the hosts booked their place at Heacham Manor GC by winning 19 points as Lincs bagged 10 and Leicestershire just seven.
The under-18s team continued their excellent form into the Midlands League match with Cambridgeshire at St. Ives as they recorded a 9½-5½ victory.
With the match evenly poised at 3½ points apiece, singles wins from Harry Oddy, Corey Neville, Owen Watts, Ed Keech, Ben Lavender and Conor Rosling sealed the team success.
Northamptonshire’s girls lost their league match against Hereford & Worcs as home advantage proved crucial at Gaudet Luce GC.
With the team playing six Scratch and three Handicap ties, Bayley Pyke and Hannah Talbot were the only players to win as Northants saw their title defence come to an end.
The county will take heart from a strong performance from their three ‘experience girls’ however as Chelsea Sharp, Ruby Smith and Ellie Mae Horsted all won their matches on the day.
Collingtree Park clinched their place in the semi-finals in thrilling fashion as they grabbed a 7-7 draw at Silverstone in their last Group D match.
Although the hosts made a good start, a narrow win for Mark Spring and Rob Horton was followed by a four-hole success for Iain Tait and Stuart Maddison.
Collingtree extended their lead by two holes and although they suffered narrow defeats in the remaining ties, a draw proved enough to confirm first place ahead of Northampton, who lost 8-5 at Wellingborough.
Cold Ashby completed a brilliant comeback against Farthingstone as they secured their second away victory of the season with a 12-8 win.
Although the home side surged into a big early lead, Liam Askew and Adrian Todd (four holes) and Stephen Bull and Jon Pycraft (eight holes) turned the match on its head, before the last tie was halved.
Ashby, who have won all their five matches, sit well clear of Farthingstone and Kingsthorpe, who won their last match by a big margin against Delapre.
Kettering missed a glorious opportunity to move clear at the top of Group C as they crashed to a 6-3 home defeat to Priors Hall.
Despite losing the opening tie by three holes, the Corby club halved the next two matches, before grabbed the plaudits by taking games four, five and six.
Joint-leaders Oundle were given a fright before securing a 14-12 home win to Overstone as the visitors took the opening tie by seven holes.
Although the away side finished strongly, a nine-hole success for Pete McNally and Adam Butler proved decisive for Oundle, who host Kettering in their next outing.
Whittlebury Park go into the semi-finals with the best record of any of the four sides after recording their seventh victory with a 5-2 home success over Silverstone in Group 2.
Tracey Heavey, Denise Pentecost, Denise Prescott and Ann Goodman bagged comfortable wins, while Juliette Parish completed the scoring on the first extra hole.
The last match in this group saw Northampton beat Cold Ashby 5-2, thanks to a series of impressive performances from Mary Morris, Susan Kreft, Divya Wilson, Margaret Worthington and Jan Forrester.
Priors Hall ended a disappointing Group 4 campaign on a high as they edged tight home contest with Kingsthorpe by a single point.
Kingsthorpe will host the two semi’s on August 17th as Oundle play Peterborough Milton, while Whittlebury face Northants County.
Wellingborough progressed through to the final of the inaugural county team event with a 4½-½ home victory against Northampton in the semi-finals.
Robin Butler and Graham Bush (6&4) and John Arnott and Ian Jolly (6&4) recorded big wins, but Wellingborough were made to battle for their other points as all the remaining three ties reached the 18th hole.
Overstone play Rushden in the other last four tie.
Sophie Copson was the star performer for Northampton in their 4-0 home victory against Rushden in Group C of the Junior League as she bagged a 8&6 win.
Team-mates Henry Edwards and Leah Ribano showed their battling qualities as they came through on the 18th hole.
Elijah Woodward won the latest NGL Junior Open on his home course at Kingsthorpe as a tally of 38 points secured a countback victory from Harry Oddy (Northants County).
Kettering enjoyed some success as Theo Brown took third on 37, Austin Cooney clinched the Second Division on countback with 39, while Ben Atherton was third in the Third Division.
With the event being co-hosted by Shires Junior Golf Tour, county juniors Jack Meakin, Mackenzie Warden, Ollie Walden and Oliver Read all finished the podium in the two nine-hole competitions.
Northampton youngster Mark Stockdale was in magnificent form in the British Junior Golf Tour event at Oxford GC as he smashed a winning score of net 60.
The 20-handicapper carded 10 gross pars and a birdie on the short fourth hole as he finished 11 net strokes ahead of gross winner Manato Nakatani (Hendon).
Golfers and golfing fans of all ages from Northamptonshire enjoyed the opportunity to watch the best players in the world compete in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale GC, Lancashire last week.
Many eyes were focused on Northants County’s Paul Broadhurst, who was taking part in the event after his victory in the Seniors Open at Carnoustie GC last year.
With coach Tim Rouse (County) making the journey up to the North West to offer help and advice, Broadhurst eagled the 17th in an opening 75, before a second round 72 meant he missed the cut by just two shots.
Broadhurst, who starts the defence of his Seniors crown at Royal Porthcawl GC in Wales this week, and Rouse weren’t the only Northants professionals working at Birkdale.
Brampton Heath pro Kieran Thomas provided coaching sessions for fans of all ages throughout the week outside the Open tent on behalf of the PGA.
Overstone Park’s Brian Mudge meanwhile joined forces with Lings School to organise a coach trip for over 50 boys and girls to Royal Birkdale on one of the practice days.
As part of the Overstone Captain’s Scholarship Scheme, Mudge has combined with The Golf Foundation and two other local schools to offer coaching sessions for youngsters.
Mudge said: "The scheme has been very successful, with all of the boys and girls being offered membership at Overstone.
"We felt the opportunity to watch the best players in the world would be further inspiration for the juniors. And it worked because they were all buzzing when they got back home.”
Meghan MacLaren’s development as a professional continues to gather pace after she competed in her second tournament in as many weeks on the LPGA Tour.
The Wellingborough golfer, who took part in the US Women’s Open at the Trump National in New Jersey, overcame the disappointment of missing the cut at the major by qualifying for the Marathon Classic.
Chasing one of two places in the Ohio field, the 2017 Ladies European Tour Access Series Order of Merit leader carded a five-under-par score to finish runner-up.
Although the 23-year-old couldn’t make the weekend in the main event, after shooting six birdies in an opening 71 on the way to a two-round total of 144, she will be pleased with her form going into the rest of the year.
Robin Williams (Peterborough Milton) produced an excellent performance in the English Boys Under-16 Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship as he finished third.
Competing on the glorious links at Burnham and Berrow GC in Somerset, the 15-year-old made the cut with rounds of 68 and 75, before adding a round of 74 in more difficult windy conditions on day two.
Williams came into his own on the back nine in the final round as he carded three birdies and no bogeys in a score of 71 to finish just two shots adrift of McGregor Trophy winner Joonas Turba, from Estonia.
Luis Witherall (Northants County) missed the cut.
Ben Jones (Northants County) will join forces with Williams in the English Under-18 Championship this week as they look to help England defend the Nations Cup trophy at West Sussex GC.
With both players also going for the individual Carris Trophy, the event has attracted a strong international field, with players travelling from across Europe, the USA and South Africa.
Eighteen-year-old Jones goes into the tournament in excellent touch after winning the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters recently by 10 strokes with a score of 18-under-par.
Wellingborough took a potentially significant step towards clinching the title as they recorded their second away victory of the campaign as they defeated Peterborough Milton 5-3.
With a 8-0 win at Priors Hall already under their belts, Wellingborough eased to victory thanks to points from Tiger Adams, Dominic Holden, Roger Butler and Richard Brown, and halves from Jon Harris and Mark Davis.
Defending champions Northants County, who travel to Wellingborough this weekend, secured their third home victory of the year with a battling 5½-2½ win against Overstone Park.
Northampton remain top of the pile despite becoming the first team this season not to beat Priors Hall as their away match ended in a draw.
Rab Wilson enjoyed a big home win, while Brian Crawford, Darren Buchan and Daniel Portus were also successful for the Corby club, who had lost their previous three matches without collecting a point.
Kingsthorpe are within touching distance of promotion into the top flight after securing their third victory in three away outings this year with a 4½-3½ success at Staverton Park.
Most of the damage was done early on as the visitors won four of the opening five ties, before Mark Bazeley maintained the team’s perfect start to the campaign with a half.
Rushden dented Brampton Heath’s hopes of catching the leaders as they edged a tight home contest by a single point.
Chris Thacker, Ian Wills, James Lea and Lewis Miller won for the hosts, while Steve Alexander grabbed the all-important half point.
Northampton’s perfect record came to an end as Cold Ashby grabbed a 4-4 draw in a fluctuating contest at Collingtree Park GC.
With both teams recording three solid wins, the result came down to games one and six as Ashby’s Les Watson and James Lovett both picked up halves to grab a share of the spoils.
Overstone Park are still chasing their first victory of the year as they went down 5½-2½ against Wellingborough, for whom Dean Smith and Mike Gilbrook impressed.
Farthingstone will look to move another step closer to their first Hollingsworth crown when they play six-time winners Peterborough Milton in the semi-finals at Northants County GC this weekend.
The other last four tie sees the two most successful clubs in competition history go head-to-head as 13-time champions Kingsthorpe meet Northampton, who have claimed the top prize on nine occasions.
The final will take place at Overstone Park GC on Sunday, August 27th.