Tony McLure picks up first national senior trophy

Tony McLure, winner of a record six Durham County championships, has at last broken a string of near misses in national events during his first season as a senior golfer

The former Whickham greenkeeper captured the County Seniors Champion of Champions title, edging English Senior champion Richard Latham into second place at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire.

McLure, three shots off the lead after the first round, triumphed by one stroke with the only sub-par score of the tournament in round two.

On a Hotchin course battered by wind and rain he prevailed with a one-under 70. Following a first round 75, that gave him a three-over total.

There was evidence suggesting veteran golfers from the three North East and Cumbria counties are hardier than most with all the region’s players finishing in the seniors top ten, with more good performances in the men’s and juniors’ County Champion of Champions tournaments at the same venue.

McLure was representing Longhirst Hall and Northumberland and had already won the county title and the Northern Counties Championship.

Despite his victory, he is not in the England team announced yesterday for the Seniors Home Internationals, which start at Royal County Down a week today.

Now that McLure has added to the English and French Over-35 titles he claimed in the 1990s, he seemed to have a strong case for selection, having finished second in the 2013 Welsh Seniors and third in the Scottish.

He said: “My target at the start of this season was to represent my country and I have fallen just short of that.

“I shall put a lot of work in during the winter and keep trying to achieve what is my ultimate ambition.”

In the second round, McLure was out in 34 with a birdie at nine but he bogeyed ten when he under-clubbed and found a bunker.

His second birdie came at the long 14th where he fired a three-wood 230 yards to the green and two-putted to pick up another shot.

From there McLure parred his way in for a homeward 36, holing some key putts when needed while he also knew what the opposition were doing. “I knew Richard had made a big number somewhere so I just tried to play the remaining holes in level par,” he said.

Wynyard’s John Ellwood was fifth, with 11-over 74 79, and Carlisle’s Peter Jack tied eighth on 15 over (80 77).

In the men’s tournament the Northumberland and Cumbria representatives were among three players tied third on one over - the Northumberland club’s Andrew Minnkin (78 74) and Silloth’s John Longcake (72 80).

In the juniors, Windermere’s Adam Chapman was only one shot away from a play-off in coming second with a one-under total and scores of 71 74. South Moor’s Chris Handy (75 77) was tied seventh on six over.

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