Barlow fights off tough competition to win Junior Open

DRIVE TIME: Stoke-by-Nayland's Sam O'Brien on his way to the boys' runners-up spot at Stoke-by-Nayland's Junior Open on Tuesday
DRIVE TIME: Stoke-by-Nayland's Sam O'Brien on his way to the boys' runners-up spot at Stoke-by-Nayland's Junior Open on Tuesday
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Newton Green’s Alice Barlow was crowned the girls’ champion at another fiercely contested Stoke-by-Nayland Junior Open on Tuesday.

The Cornard schoolgirl beat England’s rising star, and the reigning champion, Ashleigh Greenham of West Essex Golf Club by the narrowest of margins after countback had to be used.

Barlow totalled a gross score of 158 around the Constable and Gainsborough courses in windy conditions to win the girls’ section of the biggest 36-hole junior golf competition in the country — with 134 budding golfers competing.

The host club were also celebrating as home player Sam O’Brien, recently named Essex Under-16s captain, came runner-up in a strong field in the boys’ section with a gross score of 146.

The boys’ championship was carried off by George Tunbridge, of Bentley Golf Club, with a gross of 144.

Stoke-by-Nayland golf secretary Adrian Bullock said: “It has been another excellent event, well supported with very good golf being played.

“The weather conditions were chilly with a strong wind, but this did not deter the young golfers returning good scores.”

He added: “The competition was so fierce many of the prize categories were decided on countback.”

A £2,500 prize table of clothing and equipment, sponsored by Cobra Puma Golf, was handed out to the prize winners at the evening presentation with Stoke-by-Nayland walking off with the team net award from their field containing Alex Enlgish, Be Keneell and Tom Hatton.

The round of the Gainsborough Course, used on the Challenge Tour in previous seasons for the English Challenge, also served as a Daily Telegraph Qualifier event for their Race to Dubai-style junior rankings.

Newton Green’s other junior star, Eloise Aldous, who plays off a handicap of seven, went round in 77, the best of any girl, while champion Tunbridge topped the boys’ field with 72.

Bullock has said the club, where a Lee Westwood southern Golf Academy is based, will be holding the 2014 tournament, again sponsored by Cobra Puma Golf, on Tuesday, April 15.

n Former Ipswich Town footballer Jimmy Bullard got his bid to play professional golf off to a good start in the PGA EuroPro Tour Qualifying School First Stage day held at Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club last Wednesday.

Amid a field of golfers from as far away as Australia, the former Premier League midfielder shot rounds of 75 and 76 (seven over par) over the par-72 Constable Course to progress through in tied 26th place, earning him a tee time at the Final Stage in Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire yesterday.

Also joining him was Stoke-by-Nayland’s Scott Brace, who finished one under par after rounds of 74 and 69 in tied fifth, while Newton Green’s Russell Oakey failed to qualify last Wednesday after finishing 15 over par (tied 80th) after rounds of 79 and 80.

n There was a cold start to Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club’s campaign for this year’s Essex-wide Jubilee Cup (with handicaps of 12 or above playing as six singles and three pairs).

Once the six singles were concluded, Stoke held a one-point lead with wins from Dave Holland, Tim Dickens and Richard Bland, together with a half from Ian Benson.

However, Gosfield managed to win two of the three pairs matches with only Shaun Underwood and Roger Gardiner winning for the home side.