Ian Ellis storms to five-shot Norfolk Open Championship victory
Ian Ellis produced golf of the highest quality to claim an emphatic five-shot victory in the Norfolk Open Championship at Royal West Norfolk yesterday.
The Costessey Park professional went into the competition as one of the favourites and lived up to the billing in spectacular fashion to leave a strong field trailing in his wake.
Ellis could hardly have made a more impressive start to the showpiece event, opening up with a seven under par round of 64 that not only gave him a two shot advantage at the halfway stage but also set a new course record.
There was no repeat of the birdie blitz after lunch, but Ellis was a model of consistency as he went round in 70 – and that was more than good enough to clinch a second Open title, and fourth professional prize.
Royal Cromer's Lee Patterson had run him close in the morning with a fine 66, but he went seven higher in his second round and in the end had to share second place with Michael Few of Weston Park, who had rounds of 68 and 71 to join him on three under par for the tournament.
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Those were two fine performances in their own right -– but on a good day for the professionals it was Ellis' eight under total of 134 that stood out head and shoulders above the rest.
The champion revealed afterwards that his opening round of 64 – which included no fewer than nine birdies – could and should have been a 63. But he was certainly not complaining as he reflected on an excellent day's golf.
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'It wasn't the greatest round I've had from a ball striking point of view but I generally hit it straight and holed a few putts,' he said.
'In a way it was a bit frustrating because on the third I should have had a free drop. Unfortunately I thought it was out of bounds so I took a six when it should have been a five.
'I actually hit the ball better in the second round but not so many putts dropped. I have been playing well recently and I came into the event thinking 'If I play well again I should win'. And thankfully that's what happened.
'It's a tough one to play in because people like myself and Neil Lythgoe, who compete in regional events, are always expected to win. And when you don't people ask 'Why not? You are on a hiding to nothing really and I haven't always played my best golf in it. But it all came together today.
'The course record is a nice bonus. I got a 62 at Ely so it's not my lowest round as a professional but this one means a lot too because of the venue. I have played a lot of courses all around the world and this is definitely one of my favourites. You come here and it's almost like golfing heaven.
'You feel away from it all, there's no noise and you are playing a wonderful golf course with great history.'
Ellis will now turn his attention to taking another step towards earning a place in the PGA Championship at Wentworth, an event he has played in five times before.
He currently stands fourth in the PGA's East Region Order of Merit and needs to finish in the top two to progress into the national play-offs that will determine who gets to compete alongside the European Tour's elite. A top three finish at the final event, the East Anglian Open at The Lords Golf and Country Club, Rayleigh from September 26-27, should be enough – and if Ellis can carry over his form at Brancaster to Essex then he will be in with a great chance of achieving his aim.
King's Lynn's Luke Johnson was the top amateur on the day, rounds of 73 and 68 – the latter being the best afternoon score – leaving him in joint fourth place with professional Neil Lythgoe (70, 71) and one ahead of Eaton's Matthew Alden (72, 70). Johnson also took the prize for the best four round total at the Amateur and Open Championships.