Alden shines in the rain

The wind blew and the rain poured — but Eaton teenager Matt Alden shot one-under par 69 at Costessey Park in the latest Norfolk order of merit event.

He won both the scratch event by five shots from Steve Tidy (Costessey Park) and the handicap event by two from Harry Judd (Eaton). His successes have catapulted him up both order of merit tables, sponsored by Smith & Pinching.

He's currently tied second in both tables. In the scratch table, Dereham's Richard Wilson currently holds first place after steady performances in two events which have moved him ahead of Feltwell's Chris Robson. Alden has now joined Robson in second place.

Alden is in a three-way tie for second place in the handicap table, where Sean Brady (Weston Park) holds a comfortable lead, despite not teeing up at Costessey.

The order of merit is one of Alden's main targets for the year, alongside an ambition to cut his handicap to plus-one and to secure his place in the Norfolk men's first team. He has made two outings for the team already this season but will be playing with the seconds in next weekend's Anglian League fixtures.

'I was a little bit disappointed but I've just got to work hard and get back in,' said the 18-year-old. He's definitely not afraid of hard work and follows a daily schedule of 10-hours of practice and play, involving short game and range sessions.

'I'm working on my all-round game and the improvement should come,' said Alden, who is following a playing schedule which takes him out of the county and into demanding competition as he pursues his ambition to eventually make it on Tour.

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Meanwhile, his efforts paid off most recently at Costessey Park where his wedge play stood him in good stead and set up six birdies.

His one-under finish was a fine score for the conditions, when the CSS went up three to 71, reduction only, but Alden felt he could have done better.

'I was four-under at one point and then dropped back to level. But I kept my cool and thought I could get back under par again — and that's how I finished off.'

• LEADING SCORES

69 Matt Alden (Eaton), 74 Steve Tidy (Costessey Park), 75 Matt Bacon (Costessey Park), 77 Richard Wilson (Dereham), Peter Collins (Great Yarmouth and Caister), 78 John Rix (Eaton), Alan Crerar (Eaton), 79 George Morris (Eaton), 80 Alex Fellas (Great Yarmouth and Caister), Kevin Webb (Costessey Park), Bill Preedy (Eaton), Harry Judd (Eaton).

Norfolk Scratch Order of Merit leading placings: 115 pts Richard Wilson (Dereham), 100 Chris Robson (Feltwell); Matt Alden (Eaton), 92� Tom Clements (Royal Norwich); Luke Johnson (King's Lynn), 90 Peter Collins (Great Yarmouth and Caister), 85 Bruce McQuade (Royal Norwich); Steve Tidy (Costessey Park), 80 Sean Brady (Weston Park), 70 Joe Conway (Eaton); Matthew Bacon (Costessey Park).

Norfolk Order of Merit handicap table: 147� Sean Brady, 100 Joe Conway; Matt Alden; Peter Collins, 92.5 Adam Lewarne (Middleton Hall), 85 Harry Judd (Eaton), 84.16 Bill Preedy (Eaton), 77.5 Bruce McQuade; Chris Robson, 70 Steve Tidy.

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