Last-hole delight as Ely City's Luke Ryan seals Cambridgeshire Area Golf Union County Championship glory
Luke Ryan produced an almost perfect finish to clinch a memorable maiden Cambridgeshire Area Golf Union County Championship.
On his home turf of Ely City Golf Club, Ryan could hardly have written the script any better if he had tried, with a chip and a putt on the last earning him a one-shot win from Brampton Park’s Owen Davies.
It was an action-packed weekend as the strong winds and monsoon rains of Saturday gave way to far better and brighter conditions on Sunday.
And where the first two rounds had been a matter of staying in contention, the scoring opened up in the second two rounds.
“Saturday was not nice at all,” said Ryan. “In the morning it was more about not playing yourself out of the tournament, plodding along and keeping yourself in play because we knew Sunday was going to be really nice and this was the day to go for it and score.
“It’s easy to get downtrodden in the rain and they called us in when I still had one hole to play.
“I holed a really good putt on the last on Saturday afternoon which got me into the final group.
“That turned out to be quite crucial as if I’d missed it then I would have been in the second group, and it could have been different. I would say the crucial point would have been that 10-footer for par.”
Rounds of 75 and 73 had put Ryan third overnight with 148, as Ramsey’s Paul Hodgkin and Gog Magog’s Ed Dimambro tied for the lead on one-over-par 145.
But Ryan was playing in the final group on the course, with Davies in the penultimate three.
Davies had set the standard in the third round, shooting three-under-par 69, while Ryan hit 71, but it was Hodgkin that had a one-shot lead after a one-over-par 73.
However, Ryan hit three birdies in the first four holes of his final round to edge into the lead.
Davies hit back and by the time the final group had completed the 16th, Davies and Ryan were tied in the lead, with Hodgkin a further shot back.
Davies missed a three-foot putt for birdie on the 17th and then bogeyed the 18th.
It left Ryan needing to par the last for victory, and he did just that by chipping his third shot to within a foot of the hole.
“For the second shot in to the 18th, I played for a bit of adrenalin and took one club less and it turned out to be the right club,” he said.
“I had a nice lie but I was happy to chip to within a foot because you don’t want to have a three-footer for the championship.
“It was a relief at the end. As we have live-scoring on the phones, I knew what I had to do and my dad was walking round with the group in front to let me know.
“He told me what Owen had done and so I knew I needed a par but 18 is a really tough hole to par even in no wind and with no pressure. I was really pleased to get it done.
“It was brilliant. This has been on my bucket list for a long time and I thought this year was my best chance to do it on my home course.
“I’ve been playing well lately so it was nice to keep it going. On the back nine there was a bit of pressure, but I’m really happy.”
It adds to Ryan’s list of titles, having previously won the county foursomes and fourballs, and achieves a feat that eluded his father, Terry.
“My dad has been a county player for 30 years and he has been close, he’s come second and third a few times, so it’s nice to get a Ryan on the board,” said the younger Ryan.
Hodgkin had some comfort by winning the January Cup for the best net rounds on the first day, and the Gog Magog team of Ollie Rust, Tom Rogers and Dimambro won the Championship Shield. The under-21 prize went to Owen Meeds.
Full result: 290 Luke Ryan (75, 73, 71, 71); 291= Owen Davies (76, 74, 69, 72), Paul Hodgkin (75, 70, 73, 73); 297= Nick Smits, Ed Dimambro; 300 George Howard; 304 Olly Tuck; 305 Alfie Guy-Pinkney.