Frances celebrating after birdie blitz at Hunstanton

Searles company secretary Vicky Searle, centre, with Alison and Jason Groat. Picture: Tony Rushmer.

Searles company secretary Vicky Searle, centre, with Alison and Jason Groat. Picture: Tony Rushmer. - Credit: Archant

Hertfordshire visitor Jack Frances rattled off six birdies on the bounce to fire himself and playing partner Andy Thornton to glory in the Searles PGA Spring Classic.

Old Ford Manor professional Frances, 24, and seven-handicapper Thornton collected a fine 42 points in the opening day's greensomes at King's Lynn.

That left them a point ahead of their closest rivals going into the second-round better-ball format at Hunstanton.

It looked sure to be a close-fought contest, with the leaders chased hard early on by playing partners Crue Elliott (Sandy Lodge) and Sean Herman – as well as Jason Groat (Denver) and wife Alison.

But Frances went into overdrive on the back nine with an exceptional performance. He made nine birdies in total as he and Thornton secured 47 points.

That lifted their overall tally to 89 – four clear of runners-up the Groat combination (40/45), with Elliott and Herman a further two points back.

Marriott Sprowston Manor's Chase Davis was tied fifth on 78 with amateur partner I Hodge (36/42).

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An ecstatic Frances, who tied for victory in last year's Colchester pro-am, felt his latest two days' work were his best ever in tournament golf. In particular, he reflected with great pride on his Hunstanton heroics.

He said: 'I was eight-under for my ball – that's the lowest score I've had in a pro competition. My partner Andy kept spurring me on which was really nice. We clicked and it all came together.

'I was hitting the driver great, pitching was good and putting was just excellent. I've really been working hard on that.'

Thornton contributed plenty to the duo's efforts over the two days.

'The two days have been fantastic – good competition, good company and both golf courses, though very different, were absolutely beautiful,' he said.

The 54 pairs had perfect conditions to help them along the way as early spring sunshine lit up the 19th renewal of the Searles-sponsored seasonal curtain-raiser.

Selected other scores: 74: R Pudney (Mundesley) and J Crosby 31 43. 73: I Ellis (Great Yarmouth & Caister) and R Reynolds 37 36. J Weight (King's Lynn) and N Jary 34 39. 72: M Allen (Eaton) and D Thomas 33 39.

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