Ballingall's successful return home
Paddy DavittDunston Hall's Stuart Ballingall added the Norfolk Amateur Championship to his impressive golfing CV at Royal Norwich golf club yesterday. The University of Missouri talent, who has already made his mark on the American collegiate scene during his first year overseas, returned home to pip Royal Norwich's Jamie Smith by a shot.Paddy Davitt
Dunston Hall's Stuart Ballingall added the Norfolk Amateur Championship to his impressive golfing CV at Royal Norwich golf club yesterday.
The University of Missouri talent, who has already made his mark on the American collegiate scene during his first year overseas, returned home to pip Royal Norwich's Jamie Smith by a shot.
Ballingall carded a final round 69 for a 288 level par total to pick up his first Norfolk Amateur title after Smith bogeyed his last hole to miss out on a potential play-off.
'I missed this event the last couple of years because I wasn't able to play but the time before I think I finished second,' said Ballingall.
'I'd never been that close but I managed to get the job done and I'm delighted because it was a really tight one. I bogeyed the last myself and three putted 17 for par so I could have made it a little bit less close - but apart form that I had a good finish.
'When Jamie was coming up the 18th I was actually in the clubhouse and someone then told me he needed a 10-footer for a half, so I quickly came out and watched. It was pretty tense and you don't want to see another guy miss. A play-off would have been fair because he played great.'
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Ballingall's late birdie blitz over the back nine eased him clear of Smith, Royal Norwich team-mate Tom Clements and four-time previous winner Simon Clark (Great Yarmouth & Caister).
'I scored okay but over the four rounds I felt I could have scored lower,' said Ballingall.
'I didn't really get going at all until the end, when I made four late birdies, which helped me out. I just managed to get the thing around and get the job done - that is all that counts.
'You try to keep it out of trouble and made as few bogeys as possible, obviously, because I knew the birdies were out there and I managed to make a lot more in the final round than on Saturday.
'The putter got a bit hotter on Sunday afternoon and that is when it counts.
'I've played out in the States in a few hot ones but to play 36 in these weather conditions was tough. I haven't played in that much heat for a while and I think a few people struggled but I felt the course played well.
'When I first came back home they were saying they had struggled with the greens and disease. I thought they were fantastic and the ball was rolling very well.'
The former double Norfolk Open champion will return Stateside in August but admitted his latest win was the perfect fillip after last week's failed attempt to qualify for the British Amateur Championships.
'I didn't do very well at Muirfield, which is a tough course if you are not on top of your game, so this makes up for it,' he said.
'I've just finished my first year at Missouri and I've got at least another three left. It's been good. I struggled a bit when I first went out there but I had some decent results during Spring.
'Some of the guys you play against are the best in the amateur game. A lot have played professional events over there and one guy was in the US Open.
'Here between September and March you don't play much golf but that is really when the college season runs so there are lot of competitions. I might play a couple more here this summer up in Scotland, where I am from, but I won't be playing too much because there are a few things I want to work on in my swing.'
Ballinghall saved his best for last yesterday, having opened up with rounds of 72 and 74 on Saturday, before adding a 73 yesterday morning.
Smith had made a flying start with a round of 69, followed by 75, but efforts of 73 and 72 yesterday left him just short.
King's Lynn golf club picked up the team championship shield.