Ben Welch uses professional nous to claim Cambridgeshire Area Golf Union County Championship
St Neots Golf Club member prevails at Newmarket
Ben Welch used his years as a professional to earn victory in the Cambridgeshire Area Golf Union County Championships at the Links, Newmarket.
And it was a blistering start to his third round that laid the foundation for the 36-year-old St Neots Golf Club member’s maiden county title.
Welch was a professional on the EuroPro Tour for nine years, but had to take a step back through injury and did not play much golf at all between 2011 and 2015.
He moved to the area two years ago to work for Titleist, but this was his first time in the county championship.
At the halfway stage of the 72-hole competition, Welch was in sixth place after carding three-over-par 147 as Ely City 15-year-old Alfie Guy-Pinkney took the plaudits on the first day.
Two level par rounds of 72 saw him set the pace with 144, the same total as Saffron Walden’s Richard Southall, and his nett score of 138 won the January Cup.
And together with the rounds of Ryan Woods, who was third with 145, and Luke Ryan, the trio helped Ely City win the team award.
But the second day was all about Welch, with the backbone of his win provided in the morning.
“I was three or four behind going into the second day having dropped a couple of shots late on Saturday,” he said. “I started the third round really hot – I eagled the first, birdied the second, third and fourth so I was five under through six holes on the third round so that really changed my championship.
“I went from plus three to minus two at that stage. I didn’t finish the round off but that spell of holes put me right in contention so that was probably key.”
It helped Welch to two-under-par 70, and in the afternoon he carded 73, giving him a total of 290, and a three-shot win from 2017 champion Ed Dimambro, of Gog Magog. Woods was third with 294.
“I was not playing much golf last year, I haven’t really played bundles over the last few years,” said Welch, who had previously played in county championships in Cornwall and Dorset.
“This year, I’ve played a little bit more, got the bug again after a break and I’m absolutely delighted to win.
“I had been thinking about playing the event for a few weeks and trying to get in a little bit of practice around work where I could.
“I’m delighted to turn up, play well and to win is always pleasing.”
Despite the course being in great condition, scoring proved difficult with the rough three feet high in places. So how did Welch combat the challenge?
“The golf course was great, it played hard and fast,” said Welch.
“It’s obviously dried out a lot out there so the greens were firm so course management came into it a lot which probably plays a little bit to my strength, being a little bit older and wiser perhaps than I was when I played the previous ones in Dorset and Cornwall.”
Leaderboard: 290 B Welch (St Neots); 293 E Dimambro (Gog Magog); 294 R Woods (Ely City); 295 D Marris (Links); 298= R Southall (Saffron Walden), N Presto (Nene Park); 299 A Northfield (St Neots); 301 A Guy-Pinkney (Ely City).