Record round takes title

PLAYED over the course that gives its name to the trophy, event 12 in the ZFL North East Masters was the highly popular Bishop Auckland Bowl.

PLAYED over the course that gives its name to the trophy, event 12 in the ZFL North East Masters was the highly popular Bishop Auckland Bowl.

Just for a change, Morpeth’s Mark Penny didn’t win – but he scored more points than his rivals to extend his lead at the top of the rankings.

But the real story on the day was Richard Aisbitt from Brancepeth. Handily placed after a first round level par 72 – just one shot behind Durham City’s Graeme Marchbank – Aisbitt fired a new course record 64 to take the title by nine shots from Marchbank and Silloth’s John Longcake.

Aisbitt already held the record with a 63 but, since then, the course has been lengthened. His win moves him up to eighth place in the table, while Longcake improves one place to ninth and Marchbank moves up five places to ease into 10th.

Former double Northumberland Champion Mark Penny shot two solid rounds of 75 and 74 to finish in a tie for seventh. But he would have been looking over his shoulder at another Brancepeth player, Michael Curry, lying third in the ZFL Masters, just behind defending champion Simon Lee from the City of Newcastle. But Curry was not able to capitalise on his first round 72, following it with a nightmare 81 to finish in a tie for 19th.

Lee didn’t finish in the points and nor did City teammate Phil Ridden, who withdrew with a wrist injury and missed his chance of overtaking Curry in the Masters League table. Mathematically, it’s now a four-horse race for the ZFL title between Penny, Lee, Curry and Ridden. If Penny can finish inside the top 10 in either of the last two tournaments – Brancepeth and Woodham – then he will be the 2010 ZFL North East Masters Champion.

This year, the ZFL North East Masters presentation will take place at the winner’s home club. The battle for the top five prizes in the series is now between the current top 10 players in the table.

As always, Bishop Auckland organised the event very professionally and attracted 75 entrants – the highest in any of the ZFL qualifiers so far – and only had three “no shows” although that’s three too many. Even so, some tournaments have suffered from many more players than that failing to turn up. The course was in excellent condition but showed its teeth in the strong breeze with scratch scores of 73 and 72.

After Bishop Auckland, 135 players have scored points in the ZFL Masters series and are pretty evenly spread between players from Northumberland, Durham and further afield.

Page 2 - Penny on a masters roll >>

Penny on a masters roll

CAN anyone stop Mark Penny winning the ZFL North East Masters? With two events left Penny heads the table with 1,165.8 points, more than 300 ahead of City of Newcastle’s Simon Lee, and few would bet against the Morpeth player taking the title especially with just two events left.

However, both of them are on third-placed Michael Curry’s doorstep – the Leonard Crawley Medal at His Home club Brancepeth and the Woodham Classic.

Penny has simply kept on picking up points – and victories – in the series although Curry and Ridden have also been winners, and Lee has also been ticking over nicely.

Curry’s win in the Teesside Trophy moved him to within 63 points of Penny and Lee’s third place finish eased him into third place in the ZFL table with Ridden moving up to fourth, but at Westerhope, Penny, with Curry absent took a stranglehold on the top spot with two stunning 66s for a three-shot win over Ridden with Lee once again third.

That took his number of wins in the 11 ZFL events played to four and while he didn’t win the Bishop Auckland Bowl he still picked up more points than his rivals to extend his lead at the top of the table.

He finished tied for seventh while Curry had a nightmare second round 81 to finish in a tie for 19th.

Lee didn’t finish in the points, nor did Ridden, who withdrew with a wrist injury and missed a chance to overtake Curry.

Mathematically, it’s now a four-horse race for the ZFL title between Penny, Lee, Curry and Ridden.

If Penny can finish inside the top 10 in either of the last two tournaments at Brancepeth and Woodham, then he will be the 2010 ZFL North East Masters Champion.

This year, the ZFL North East Masters presentation will take place at the winner’s home club. The battle for the top five prizes in the series is now between the current top 10 players in the table.

Rivals take turns to win

THE long-established Bank Holiday weekend double-header of the Teesside Trophy and the George Howorth Trophy at Westerhope showed the competitive pedigree of two double county champions in the ZFL North East Masters.

At Teesside, Durham’s Michael Curry took full advantage of ZFL leader Mark Penny’s absence, firing two fine rounds of 70 in tricky conditions. Curry’s four under par total gave him a one-shot win over Daniel Gavins from Wheatley, with defending ZFL Masters Champion Simon Lee (City of Newcastle) a shot further back.

At the Marston and Coors-sponsored Westerhope event, the roles were reversed, with Mark Penny playing and Michael Curry absent this time.

Penny really made it count, decimating the course and the field with two stunning rounds of 66 for a 12 under par 132 and a three-shot win over Phil Ridden, with Simon Lee once again third – eight shots behind.

Ridden must have thought he had a chance when he followed his first round 68 with a fine 67. Before playing his putt on the 18th, he trotted over to the nearby scoreboard to check the scores. The look on his face told the story!

Mark Penny had an added bonus on the day. Reducing his exact handicap to plus 3.4 supports his plans to play in as many national events as possible in 2011.

 

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