Four ex-professionals in Norfolk line-up for first Anglian League match
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk's men's team will go into their opening Anglian League fixture of the season on Sunday with no fewer than four former professionals in their line-up.
Ben Rawsthorne's application to rejoin the amateur ranks after a spell on the Europro Tour recently went through, providing another boost to the county as they seek to bounce back from a miserable 2018 that saw them lose all five matches.
He will be pairing up with George Morris - another former pro' - in the match against Lincolnshire at Great Yarmouth and Caister while Norfolk can also call on the experience of Carl Green and Jon Baker-Odlin, who both spent many years in the paid ranks after starting their careers at the coastal course.
Reigning Norfolk Amateur champion Warren Bates and home player Tom Carding are the two youngsters in the team, which is completed by Thomas Nudd and new skipper Simon Clark, another player with vast experience who will be playing on the course he calls home.
With former touring professional Michael Few overseeing the set-up as manager, Clark believes the foundations are in place for a good campaign.
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"I think it's the most experience we have had available for many years and I am very pleased with the line-up we have put together," said Clark. "We have had some good practice sessions at Caister and now it is a question of putting in a performance in the opening match."
Norfolk Seconds hit the road to take on their Lincolnshire counterparts at Boston. Their team is: Shaun Larkins (captain), James Hazell, Iain Yule, Kale Heath, Mason Bernstein, Jamie Smith, Richard Wilson and Aiden Tanner.
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The champion for the past two years will be missing when the three day Norfolk Ladies Championship tees off at Hunstanton on Friday morning.
Royal Cromer's Amelia Williamson is unable to defend her title as she is studying in the United States and her absence gives a wide open feel to the biggest event in the county women's calendar.
Another talented youngster and former champion, Bawburgh's Amy Taylor, is away for the same reason, but there is still plenty of youthful talent in the field.
A player to watch will be Royal Norwich's Eve Neild, just 14, who finished third in the recent R&A Under-16 Girls' Championship at Fulford, while her elder sister Hope could also be a contender.
There are plenty of established county players in the line-up including last season's runner Tiffany Mills (Ryston Park), 2014 winner Jo Herd (Royal Norwich) and multiple former champion Tracey Williamson (Royal Cromer) - Amelia's mum - who will hit the first ball of the championship at 8am.
The 40-strong field - 10 up on last year - will be whittled down to 16 through two rounds of strokeplay, with two rounds of matchplay on Saturday and the semi-finals and final on Sunday.
County AM AM
An impressive total of 100 women in 25 teams took part in the annual Norfolk LCGA AM-AM at Thetford.
For this first event of the season each team was hosted by a county ambassador or official, with two out of four scores to count.
Winners on countback with 93 points were Carole Davidson and Ali Rix from The Links and Liz Hewett from Royal Cromer, led by 17-year-old county ambassador and player Maisie Farrelly from Dereham.
Second place on countback went to Jules Hutchinson, Liz Robinson, Carolyn Fildes from Royal Norwich with county ambassador Sharon Black from Dunston Hall.
In third place with 90 points were Karen Woodrow, Wendy Johnson, Vickie Warner from Barham Broom with Margo Horsburgh, county official from Thetford.
Former European Tour player Andrew Collison is making his mark as a senior, with a win to his name in the UK Masters Pro Tour.
The Bungay and Waveney professional claimed top prize at the Dunstable Downs Challenge in Bedfordshire, with an excellent three under par round of 67 leaving him one clear of Paul Streeter. His closest challenger is a regular on the European Seniors Tour and finished ninth in the last season's Order of Merit.
Another Norfolk professional made a strong challenge in the most recent Masters Tour event at Kingsthorpe Golf Club in Northampton. Bawburgh's Mark Spooner finished in a tie for third place, two shots behind winner Ian Roper, after a round of 70.
Will Harrold's tough spell on the Web.com Tour - the second level of American tournament golf - continued last week when he missed another cut.
The Sheringham professional was three shots off the level par cut-off point at the Nashville Open after posting rounds of 73 and 74.