Perfect finish for Brydon

CHRIS WISE Austin Brydon won the Norfolk Amateur golf title for the second time at Sheringham after picking the perfect time to play a near perfect round.


Austin Brydon won the Norfolk Amateur golf title for the second time at Sheringham after picking the perfect time to play a near perfect round.

Any thoughts that the Royal Norwich player's best days might be behind him at the age of 39 were well and truly dispelled as he fired a wonderful 68 yesterday afternoon to record a four-shot victory over club colleague Dan Henderson in the rain-affected event.

Brydon went into the final round one shot adrift of home favourite Will Harrold but quickly put the youngster under pressure with birdies at the second and fourth holes and then bounced back from a bogey at the 456 yard fifth - stroke index 1 on the course - to string together five straight pars before picking up another shot at the short 11th.

By then the experienced campaigner was on level par for the tournament, having started with rounds of 72 and 70 - and that's exactly where he stayed, as he plotted his way round the course in typically methodical fashion to post a target that proved too much for all his rivals.

Harrold eventually had to settle for a 75 and third place and with the other members of the final group - James Ollington (Costessey Park) and Paul Holland (King's Lynn) - also dropping shots, it soon became evident that only one man could prevent Brydon from picking up the coveted trophy - defending champion Henderson.

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With scores of 73 and 72 behind him, the big-hitting Royal Norwich man was only just off the pace going into the final round, and although a disappointing front nine of 38 saw him lose ground he then hit a hot streak coming home, with three birdies and six pars helping him post a fine 69.

That sort of number is generally good enough in the final round when you are close to the top of leaderboard, but on this occasion it wasn't nearly enough, and after a lengthy wait for the final three-ball to finish a thoroughly deserved victory for another of the stalwarts of Norfolk count golf was confirmed.

“This is the top event in the county and I am very proud to have won it for the second time,” said Brydon, who also triumphed at Thetford in 2003.

“In the circumstances I'd say that was the best round I have ever played in this tournament. I made a lot of good up and downs today - I'd say that was the key - and only dropped one shot all day, and that was when I three putted the fifth after hitting probably the best approach of my round.

“To go round in 68 was very pleasing, because I don't get the chance to practice as much as I used to because of work commitments. I guess I just used my experience to good effect today and managed to post a score that was good enough to win it.”

Henderson received no information about his club colleague's scoring while he was out on the course, but had a feeling he would shoot a low number.

“I know Austin's game pretty well and whenever I caught a glimpse of him out there he looked to be playing well,” he said. “It turned out I was right! To shoot 68 in the final round in an event like this is a tremendous achievement and there's no doubt he is a worthy champion.

“I played well on the back nine. I had three birdies, and went close to three more, but as it turned it wouldn't have been enough even if they had gone in.”

The final day was played out under leaden skies, but fortunately the rain held off and the 25 qualifiers were able to get through their two rounds unimpeded by the weather. It was a very different story on Saturday, with a violent thunderstorm inundating the course in mid-afternoon and forcing organisers to make the Championship a 54-hole event, with the cut coming after just one round.

That was bad news of those who had made a slow start, and also for players like Simon Locke, who was two under par for his second round when the heavens open - but it was the only realistic option, with parts of the course left temporarily under water following the deluge.

Saturday's play was nothing if not uneventful, with two holes-in-one being recorded, both on the same hole, the 159-yard par three 11th. Great Yarmouth and Caister's Scott Boon and The Norfolk's Kevin Webb were the men who were buying the drinks after their rounds, although their ace shots weren't enough to clinch a place in the top 10.