Duo claim top honours in English Schools National Championships at Hollinwell
A SUPERB opening round of 69 provided the foundation for Adam Stone to lift the boys’ title in the English Schools National Championships at Hollinwell in Nottinghamshire.
Although he followed it with a level-par 72, his aggregate of 141 left the 18-year-old from Lancaster four strokes ahead of runner-up Alister Balcombe from Somerset and five clear of another Lancastrian, Oliver Clarke from Formby.
“I’m really pleased to be the national champion but I have been playing good golf this season,” said Stone.
“I’ve been working hard with my coach Ryan Done at Heysham and I’ve twice played for the Lancashire first team this year.”
Starting his opening round at the tenth tee, Stone went out in 33, dropped his only shot at the second, but erased that error with his fourth birdie at the eighth to be home in 36.
He was on-fire again in the afternoon with three birdies in the first six holes to be out in 33 then got to four-under with another at the 11th. But he came to grief with a double-Bogey six at the 12th where he drove into deep rough, found sand in three and took three more to get down.
Then at the 14th, two more shots were dropped when his approach went into rough at the back of the green and, after hacking out, he three-putted for another six which hauled him back to level par 72. But no damage was done as he had a cushion over his nearest challenger Balcombe, who had four birdies in his 71, the best afternoon return.
Sophie Keech from the Lyme Regis club in Dorset continued her remarkable record in the girls’ championship. She was champion in 2011, lost the title on countback last year but stormed to victory again by five shots.
She went round in 70, five-under-par, in the morning to lead by three at lunch, then beat par again with a 74 in the afternoon for a 144 total.
It left her five shots clear of second placed Eloise Healey from Lancashire and seven ahead of Ella Ofstedahl from Hertfordshire and local hope Emily Mae Hall.
Despite a bogey at the first, Keech found birdies at the second and third before an eagle-three at the sixth saw her out in 34, while further birdies at the 11th and 18th brought her back in 36.
Starting at the tenth in the afternoon, she recorded another eagle, at the second, plus two more birdies and she could even afford three bogeys in her one-under-par 74.
Healey’s opening 73 contained five birdies but she couldn’t repeat it after lunch, her 76 dropping her further off the pace, while her 73 was matched by Ofstedahl in the afternoon.