Norfolk Ladies will be without key players for National Finals in September
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk Ladies captain Sue Heeles can't wait to lead her side into the National Finals - but she admits the timing of the event could have been a little kinder.
Her team will be competing against the best in the country at Delamere Forest in Cheshire in the autumn following a nerveless performance at Apsley Guise in Bedfordshire when they sealed a second successive regional title.
Thoughts immediately turned to the national event, which gets under way on September 16 - but while there is genuine excitement in the Norfolk camp their captain would have far preferred an earlier date.
By mid September two or her best players, Amelia Williamson and Amy Taylor, will have resumed their studies in the United States, while to rub salt into the wounds the competition clashes with the official opening of the new course at her home club of Royal Norwich.
"Obviously I would have loved to have been there but I can't be in two places at one time," said Heeles. "As for Amelia and Amy we always knew there would be a problem with the national finals and to be fair other teams will also be affected by players going back to college. It's now a case of checking who will be available but whoever I name and I am sure they will do a good job.
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"I was so proud of the way everyone played last week. There was a great team spirit and when the pressure was on in the final match against Hertfordshire they kept their nerve. It was a nerve-wracking day, that's for sure, but I was always confident we would do it."
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Talented Diss amateur James Biggs will be flying the flag for the region next Tuesday in final qualifying for the Open Championship.
He finished tied sixth in the regional event at Northamptonshire County to earn the right to battle it out for one of 12 spots on offer at Royal Portrush next month.
Biggs posted a one under par 69, one better than Bawburgh professional Andrew Marshall who is on the reserve list.
All the other local hopefuls missed out, with Jack Yule (King's Lynn), Giles Evans (Peter Field Golf) and Alex Holmes (Great Yarmouth & Caister) going closest with rounds 72.
Other scores: 75 Morgan Thompson-Williams (Royal Norwich), 76 Warren Bates (Heacham Manor, am), 77 Tom Maxwell (Wensum Valley), 77 Chris Bartram (Diss, am), 79 Calvin Sherwood (Rookery Park), 85 Nick Lucas (Dunston Hall). Kedleston Park: 75 Nic Cains (Swaffham).
Saturday's Norfolk Handicap Championship is likely to be a poignant occasion as the final county event to be staged at Royal Norwich's traditional home at Hellesdon.
The course is now the site of a housing development and will be closing for business in September when the new course at Weston Longville is officially opened.
Defending champion Joe Ellis from King's Lynn is not playing but Yarmouth and Caister's Nathan Ryan, who was pipped on countback last year, is in the 45-strong field. The title will be decided over 36 holes, with play getting under way at 7.45am.
Longest Day challenge
Four Swaffham members will be setting their alarms early on Saturday to take part in a gruelling charity effort.
Glenn Dack, Ralph Rix, Eddie Bowie and Ian Lake - known collectively as the Merry Band of Muppets - will be playing 72 holes to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Research as part of the annual Longest Day Challenge. Anyone wishing to support them should visit https://longestdaygolf.macmillan.org.uk/Team/merrybandofmuppets
Tracey Williamson won the Norfolk Senior Ladies' Championship on her home course of Royal Cromer - but it was a close run thing.
She recorded a round of 80 to lift the silverware, with Eaton's Karen Young posting the same score but being pipped on countback.
The handicap winner and runner-up were also from the home club, June Deans and Carole Davidson with a nett 74 and 75 respectively. The winner of the Judith Mackinnon Trophy for the second year running was Sue Meadows from Hunstanton.
The tournament attracted 65 competitors, with the course in excellent condition and providing a genuine test.
Norfolk duo Nic Cains and Chase Davis have made up for failing to qualify for last year's final of the Golfbreaks.com PGA Fourball Championship by making no mistake this time.
Cains, who is attached to Swaffham, and Eaton's Davis missed out on in a play-off in 2018 but this time the pair stormed to victory at Crews Hill Golf Club, Enfield.
Cains contributed six birdies and an eagle and Davis weighed in with five birdies as the pair posted a betterball 10-under-par round of 60 to finish three shots ahead of the trio sharing second place.
They will be joined at the final in Farleigh, Surrey in late August by Ryan Pudney (Mundesley) and Charlie Bright (Sheringham).