DARREN Smith, the man who clinched victory for Arcot Hall in the Northumberland County Clubs First Division Championship, will miss out on the chance to add the national title to the Cramlington club’s trophy cabinet.
Smith, runner-up in last year’s Northumberland County Championship, will be back at collage in the USA when the English Champion Club final takes place at Woodbridge on September 11-12.
“It’s a shame, but it can’t be helped,” said Smith, “I’m due back at college in North Carolina in September.”
Smith held his nerve as Arcot edged home at Close House by a single shot. Morpeth were in the clubhouse on 430 having squeezed out Westerhope, also on 430, on the better second round total.
Only Arcot had a realistic chance of preventing victory for the Penny brothers, Mark and Craig, and Scotland international Sandy Twynholm – for whom it would have been a sixth win in the event.
With Paul Caldicott (70 69) and Jonny Lynn (76 72) in the clubhouse it needed Smith to add a 72 or better to his first round 71 for Arcot’s first County Clubs title since 1992.
He didn’t disappoint. But playing in the final group he scared his teammates when he drove into a fairway bunker. However, he played a brilliant shot onto to the green and two-putted – holing a tricky three- footer – for a par and a 71 for Arcot to win by one shot on 429.
“The ball was under the lip, but I managed to get it on the green,” said Smith, who only found out how important his par putt was as he made his way towards the clubhouse.
Now Arcot will have to find a replacement for the plus one handicapper for the final in September unless they find a way of getting him back from the USA which would depend on his college commitments and the cost.
Westerhope’s Ross Crowe set a new course record of 62 in the first round, three shots better than the previous mark and he followed up with 73 to win the individual prize. 429 Arcot Hall (P Caldicott 70 69, J Lynn 76 72, D Smith 71 71); 430 Morpeth (S Twynholm 72 69, M Penny 69 69, C Penny 79 72); Westerhope (A Minnikin 71 74, R Crowe 62 73, B Sayer 77 73).
Relegated to the Second Division: 467 Blyth, 471 Tynemouth, 475 Bamburgh Castle, 479 Parklands. The Second Division Teams Championship played at the same time was won by Newcastle United with a score of 221 and they are promoted along with Backworth 224, Matfen Hall 225, and Alnmouth Village 227.