County glory for youngster Yule
Jack Yule maintained his impressive run of form as he withstood a strong challenge from Alex Carter to win the Norfolk Amateur Championship for the first time at Royal Cromer yesterday.
The 18-year-old from King's Lynn went into the showpiece event in the form of his life, having finished joint winner of a qualifier for the national Brabazon Trophy before going round Costessey Park in just 66 strokes to take the honours in the latest Order of Merit competition. And he duly justified his position as one of the favourites for county glory as he posted a one-over-par four round total of 289 to record a three-shot victory over home player Carter.
Those bare statistics only tell half the story, however.
Yule appeared to be cruising to success when he fired an excellent three under par 69 yesterday morning to open up a seven shot lead going into the final round. But a poor start that saw him drop three shots in his opening two holes opened up a window of opportunity for his rivals, and fellow youngster Carter was quick to take advantage.
While the leader was struggling, the man who started the fourth round in second position was moving in the other direction and by the time they headed into the final stretch Carter was three under for his round, while Yule was two over – meaning just two strokes separated the pair in what had long since become a two-horse race for the trophy. It really was anyone's title when Yule found gorse with his drive at the 394-yard 15th, and dropped a shot as a result, but he then produced the response of a true champion at the next to give himself some breathing space at the top.
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The graduate of the Lee Westwood Golf School at Stoke by Nayland played the 316 yard 16th in a style the great man himself would surely have been proud of, reducing it to a deadly accurate drive and two putts to move back to two over for his round.
While all this was going on Carter continued to play steady golf but he knew he needed more birdies to stand a realisitic chance of catching the leader and he was unable to add to his tally, with the knock-out blow coming at his final hole when he posted a bogey five. That gave Yule a three-shot cushion and although birdie putts slipped past the hole at 17 and 18 it mattered not as he sealed victory with a par in front of a good sized gallery which included his father, county captain Iain Yule, who had made it a good day for the family by finishing 10th himself.
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'To win the Norfolk title feels quality – it was one of my main aims this year and it's nice to achieve it,' said Yule junior afterwards.
'I didn't get off to a great start in the final round – I hit a few iffy shots, going for things that I shouldn't have, and that cost me a few shots. It was just a case of fighting back after that and fortunately I managed to get back into a little bit of rhythm. I had a little scare at the 15th when the ball came off the face of my club a little hot and found the gorse – I certainly didn't intend to hit it that far. That cost me a shot but I managed to birdie the next and play the last two holes solidly and that was enough.'
In the end Carter finished six shots ahead of third-placed Kit Holmes, the defending champion, but although he and Yule left the field behind them yesterday afternoon it was a very different story earlier in the four-round event. At the end of a tough opening day, which saw Royal Cromer buffeted by strong winds and heavy showers, there was a real log jam at the top, with just two shots separating the top three. Yule was joint leader with Lynn colleague Paul Reade after both had rounds of 75 and 71 while home player Mark Williamson, back in the event after a long absence, was breathing down their necks after following another 75 with a 72.
Williamson's brave challenge ended with a third round of 81 – he would finish seventh – while Reade's chances also disappeared with a morning 78, setting the scene for the fascinating two-way battle that unfolded. The best scoring of the final round came from Holmes – warming up nicely for this week's British Amateur Championships – and Yarmouth and Caister's Alex Fellas, who both went round in 69, Fellas finishing joint fourth with Aaron Bullock (Caldecott Hall),.