Eagle's eagle on way to the title

KEVIN Eagle, the Suffolk county player from Rushmere, won the East Anglian Daily Times Sunshine Challenge final in perfect weather at Ufford Park yesterday where the course was looking good ready for next week's PGA Europro Tour event.

KEVIN Eagle, the Suffolk county player from Rushmere, won the East Anglian Daily Times Sunshine Challenge final in perfect weather at Ufford Park yesterday where the course was looking good ready for next week's PGA Europro Tour event.

Eagle, a scratch player, beat David Sharp of Waldringfield, who plays off a handicap of five, 4&2 in a match that was evenly contested until the 13th hole. Eagle was never behind.

He fired his second shot to within three feet at the 470-yard par-five opening hole and sank the putt for an eagle three. It was soon level again when Eagle's tee shot at the second left his ball in the reservoir, although he missed a putt that would have earned him a half. Eagle was back in front when he won the third.

Sharp levelled matters with the help of the first of his four shots at the fourth but was one down at the turn and two down after a weak drive at the 11th.


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Sharp was back in the game at the 12th when in receipt of a shot at the 229-yard, par-three he was pin high to the right with Eagle off the green.

Eagle won the 13th and Sharp virtually gave away the 14th so that the difference was now three holes.

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Both players took the cautious approach at the 15th rather than go for glory by taking on the carry over the water.

A half in par meant that Eagle was dormie three ahead. He closed the match out on the 16th to make sure of his visit to the Portuguese Algarve from November 5 to 12.

Both semi-finals went to the 18th green. Eagle beat Will Shaw of Ipswich in a tense tussle that produced patches of brilliance. Greater consistency was perhaps the key to Eagle's success.

Sharp was staring defeat in the face when two down with three to play against Simon Shepherd, a 10-handicap player who represented Cretingham in the Tolly Cobbold Cup final this year. Furthermore Shepherd had the last of his four shots on the 17th.

Shepherd had sunk a 15-foot putt at the 15th to go two up, but was clumsy out of a bunker at the 16th. Even so, he was still favourite at one up with two to play.

Sharp drove into a bunker on the left at the 17th while Shephard found himself in the same bunker after two shots. It looked as though the hole would be halved with Shepherd receiving a Stroke, but Sharp produced his best putt of the round, from some 16 feet, to win the hole and go to the final tee all square.

Sharp drove straight while Shepherd had to chip out from saplings on the right. Eventually he was left needing a 10-foot putt to take the match to extra holes. The ball stayed out and his determined battle was lost.

Eagle will now take on the winners of eight other regional newspaper competitions over three Stableford rounds in Portugal. He follows in a line of category one winners from East Anglia that has included Neil Meadows, Kristian Day, Paul Dobson and Rob Pritchard.

Scores

Semi-finals: Kevin Eagle (Rushmere) beat Will Shaw (Ipswich) one up; David Sharp (Waldringfield) beat Simon Shephard (Cretingham) one up.

Final: Eagle beat Sharp 4&2.

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