TALK about going from one extreme to the other. Our revelation last week that Chris Paisley pitches up to see his coach with enough tournament stats to fill ten pages of A4, puts the background to the new Northumberland strokeplay champion’s victory into context.
James Curry took the title despite having played no more than eight rounds of golf since Christmas before going into the 72-hole tournament at Bellingham, where he signed for scores of 71 69 69 67 for a four-under total of 276.
“I have no idea where the good form came from,” he said.
“I have just been playing golf for fun, and I have not been practising at all. I have been playing in the Newcastle and District league this season and that has been it, really.”
Now 24, Curry’s teenage years, suggested playing golf might be his living. His father David, 48, won the same county title three times in a row between 1984 and 1986, when he also captured the British Amateur representing Prudhoe, his son’s club.
David Curry, now the teaching professional and clubhouse manager at Blyth, was always going to be a near impossible act to follow for a son. But initially James made a good fist of it.
He was an English Schoolboys cap, a member of the England Under-21 squad and winner of the Northumberland juniors’ Player of the Year award two years running and, for a while, a stalwart of the county men’s team. A disastrously unhappy year at a junior college in Hobbs, New Mexico – “I would advise anybody else to really research it properly before going to the States, it was nothing like what I expected” – took the wind out of his sails during his last year as a teenager.
Football has become a big part of Curry’s sporting life. He has been playing on the wing for a Sunday league side, Wylam Brewery, with training one night a week and a five-a-side session on another evening.
He said. “I just stopped enjoying golf. But I am a lot happier now. It was all pretty stress free at Bellingham. I made a few mistakes but not too many. I have settled into my job as a greenkeeper at Prudhoe and I am concentrating on getting all my qualifications and I have a part-time job working behind the bar at Prudhoe Social Club.”
Sunday’s victory was followed two days later by another red letter day in Curry’s life. His girlfriend, Kirsty Frazer, presented him with a baby daughter, Naevia Grace Curry weighing in fit and well at 7lb 7oz.
David Curry now has a total of three grandchildren, all of them grand-daughters.
James is the third generation of golfing Currys. Grandfather Bill, 72, an 11-handicapper at Prudhoe in his time, is the former head greenkeeper at Bellingham.
Runner-up in the county championship and five shots back was Bedingtonshire’s Mathew Webb, the defending champion and a player in good form.
We recently reported on Webb’s victory in the North and South tournament and he has followed that up by shooting a seven-under 66 on his home course to win a CIU regional qualifier.
He has also taken the Northumberland and Alliance Championship with scores of 71 71 for a two over total at Tynemouth.
The CIU success put Webb through to the national working men’s clubs final and the highlight of his 66 was a tee shot at the par three 14th which hit the pin and bounced off the rim of the cup to finish 20 feet from the flag. He said: “It was a bit like a slam dunk.”