Superb line-up at Rookery Park for Suffolk Amateur Championship

Suffolk�s James Biggs receives the Lagonda Trophy from Clive Smith, founder and sponsor. Biggs, who

Suffolk�s James Biggs receives the Lagonda Trophy from Clive Smith, founder and sponsor. Biggs, who defends his Suffolk Amateur title at Rookery Park on Sunday, follows in the footsteps of other Suffolk winners of prestigious national events such as Jamie Moul (Brabazon Trophy and Lytham Trophy), Steve Crosby (Logan Trophy), Hugo Dobson (Faldo Series Grand Final and South East Links Trophy), Jon Marks and Max Turner (Golf Illustrated Gold Vase). Marks also won the Sherry Cup at Sotogrande. Photograph: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

There are 13 players with plus handicaps in Sunday’s Suffolk Amateur Championship at Rookery Park. Five of them off plus two have Suffolk county first-team experience.

Eight others play off plus one, six are off scratch and those with a handicap of one include Alfie Halil who won the Suffolk Open Championship on the same course last year.

James Biggs is the holder of the Todd Trophy which he won with the help of a course record first round on his home course at Diss.

Sam Debenham, restored to county first-team duty after many years, was Suffolk Open champion in 2016. County captain Jack Cardy was amateur champion in 2014. He had a brief spell as a tournament professional but is now back in the amateur ranks.

Sam Byford was winner in 2015 as a junior and Gregor Tait won in 2016.

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The others off plus two are Paul Waring and Monty Scowsill who has been suffering from glandular fever.

Course knowledge may play a part. Calvin Sherwood and Luke Thompson will be keen to take advantage of their home venue.

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Chris Fleming will hope to prove that golf in Cornwall, where he was a county player, is as good as that in Suffolk.

The young and hungry Habebul Islam is hardly likely to suffer from stage fright after his experience in the Brabazon Trophy. It is a two-tee start. George Fricker and Tom Auchterlonie, so long as they arrive at the correct tee which is more than they managed in the Suffolk Foursomes, can also strike blows for the teenagers as can Max Adams and Louis Martin.

Jed Seeley has yet to do himself justice in Suffolk championships. His hard work during the winter is starting to pay dividends.

Ben Sayers, Adam Sheldrake, James Tyler, Danny Western and Alex Taylor cannot be ruled out.

Jack Forgan lost to Byford in a play-off at Gorleston three years ago. If he can keep his tee shots on the fairway he will stand a good chance.

John Maddock winner in 1993, 1994 and 1997 is trying again as is former Logan Trophy winner Steve Crosby who was Suffolk champion in 2004.

Notable absentees include Nathan Overton, last year’s runner-up Josh Driver, and Paul Barnard who was such a force in Suffolk amateur golf in the nineties.

The Suffolk Matchplay clashed with the South East county qualifier last year. This time the match play is on July 7 and 8. The county qualifier at Orsett is on July 14 so the big guns have no reason not to take part.

Meanwhile, Haverhill are the new Suffolk Junior Club champions. They beat Diss by 101 points to 89 in the final played at Newton Green. They go forward to represent Suffolk in the national final at Frilford Heath on August 16.

Scores (handicaps in brackets): Haverhill: James Iron (8) 36 points, Jason Carpenter (14) 34, Fiona Stokes (6) 31. Diss: Harrison Groucott (18) 39, Charlie Stammers (5) 28, Alex Lawrie (28 but played off 24) 22.

Diss were unfortunate. Stammers was unwell on the course but managed to complete his round. It was Lawrie’s first competitive event after he was called up as a late replacement.

Newton Green, winners for the past three years, lost to Haverhill in the quarter-final by 103 points to 97.

Diss beat Bury St Edmunds 113-80, Thorpeness beat Ipswich 107-100 while Ufford Park were handed a walkover by Bungay.

In the semi-finals Diss beat Thorpeness on count back both teams scoring 97 points.

Although Ufford Park beat Haverhill they were disqualified as they played a junior whose home club was Ipswich. The rules stipulate that a player can only represent his or her nominated home club.

Essex have included 16-year-old Curtis Cup star Lily May Humphreys in their squad for East Ladies’ County Week at Woodbridge starting on June 18.

Humphreys won the Helen Holm Trophy, the Scottish Women’s Open at Royal Troon, earlier this season.

Two Clacton players, Faye Trigg and Katy Yates, retain their places from last year when Essex finished as runners-up to Suffolk at Hunstanton. Absentees from the side that drew with Suffolk last year include Kelly Martin and Sophie Madden.

Essex squad: Rachel Casey (Benton Hall), Ashley Chalmers and Harriet Lynch (both Thorndon Park), Ashley Croft (Stock Brook), Megan Henry (Chigwell), Lily May Humphreys (Stoke by Nayland), Bella Jay (Chelmsford), Faye Trigg and Katy Yates (both Clacton).

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