Happy end to David's exile

The strokeplay championships of County Durham and Northumberland were decided in windswept conditions yesterday with winners from contrasting backgrounds.

The strokeplay championships of County Durham and Northumberland were decided in windswept conditions yesterday with winners from contrasting backgrounds.

The Northumberland title was taken at Alnwick by Sandy Twynholm of Morpeth for a record sixth time, the 41-year-old having started level on five wins with former British Amateur champion David Curry and Peter Deeble, twice English Amateur champion.

At the Durham City club, 34-year-old David Patterson, who turned professional at 17, triumphed in only his second tournament since serving a two-year exile imposed by the R&A while he regained his amateur status.

Patterson had to sweat it out as the home club's Andy Bell looked poised to take the title. But Bell bogeyed 15 and 16, each time taking three shots from the edge of the green.

Patterson said there were no great dramas in any of his rounds of 74 69 72 and 73. He said: "Even in my second round 69 it was a case of steady as she goes - I hit 16 greens in regulation - because there was nothing special about my putting."

However, the course had been toughened up to the extent that in the most recent club competition at Durham City, almost a third of the field were forced to put in nil returns.

So consistently avoiding the rough was no mean feat for Patterson who played only around dozen times - "just socially with some mates" - during his enforced lay-off.

Now a fire engineer with Peterlee Fire Company, the former Dene House Comprehensive School pupil took up golf as a 13-year-old at Castle Eden, where he was the men's club champion at 15 and the assistant professional at 17.

He was also an assistant at Seaham and a club professional at Stressholme, George Washington and Whitburn before almost quitting the sport "because I was so disillusioned."

Having finished fourth in the two-round Seaton Salver a week earlier, Patterson said: "These six rounds have been my first competitive golf for two and a half years, so I have concentrated on my rhythm and tempo rather than anything technical."

Meanwhile, soon after claiming his Northumberland title, Twynholm was named in the Big Six team for Ganton on June 9, along with James Curry (Prudhoe), Phil Ridden (City of Newcastle), Simon Lee (Newcastle United), Andrew Minnikin (Gosforth) and Chris Paisley (Stocksfield). Hexham's Phil Waugh is the reserve.

City of Newcastle's Nicky Maddison, a Cramlington Sixth Form College student and still a junior, finished third at Alnwick and makes his county senior debut against Yorkshire at Malton and Norton on Saturday.

Twynholm produced a Patterson-like performance with county captain Kevin Cademy-Taylor saying: "It was breezy and bouncy but Sandy was as accurate as ever and, as always, rarely in trouble. He's been at the top of Northumberland golf for 20 years and even all the talented youngsters we have coming through still can't knock him off his perch."

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer