In-form Bate wins matchplay title

PAUL Bate, the 28-year-old teaching professional at Brett Vale, carried off the Ransomes Cup as winner of the Suffolk PGA matchplay championship at Thorpeness.

PAUL Bate, the 28-year-old teaching professional at Brett Vale, carried off the Ransomes Cup as winner of the Suffolk PGA matchplay championship at Thorpeness.

It was Bate's first success in this event. His accuracy off the tee with a driver, when many rivals played irons for safety, was a key factor in his 2 and 1 victory over Suffolk Open champion Simon Dainty in a disappointing final.

It was a well-deserved success for Bate, who took full advantage of Dainty's mistakes off the tee, which were in total contrast to his spectacular second round victory over Richard Davies of Ipswich the previous day, when he enjoyed a succession of birdies and never dropped a shot.

Bate was four up with four to play and, but for missing a couple of short putts and making a mess of the 13th, he would have completed his victory at one of the furthest points from the club house.

As it turned out Dainty, who takes his final PGA exams this week at The Belfry, made a late rally with defeat staring him in the face. He won the 15th and 16th to test Bate's nerves but it was all over on the 17th green when he was short with a 20-foot birdie putt to keep the game alive.

On the 15th Dainty's drive ended on the edge of a gorse bush on the far side of the fairway. He had a restricted swing but still managed to send a wedge to the fringe of the green and complete his par.

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Consolation for Dainty is that reaching the final clinched his place at the top of the Suffolk PGA order of merit, which saves him from having to pre-qualify for PGA East Region Order of Merit events next year.

In the semi-finals Dainty overcame Andrew Tokley of Stoke by Nayland in a match that ended in dramatic fashion when he chipped in for a birdie at the 16th from a bunker on the left of the green.

In the other semi-final Bate wore down the resistance of former three-times Challenge Tour winner Andrew Collison from Bungay, who was last year's losing finalist. There was nothing to choose between the two until the closing holes. Bate's toughest match had come in the first round when he stood on the final tee one down against Keith Preston of Aldeburgh. Preston hooked his tee shot into the gorse and Bate won with a birdie on the first extra hole.

Dainty's impressive form in the first round against Simon Reeve of Aldeburgh and then against Davies suggested that he would romp away with the Ransomes Cup. No two days are alike at golf, though, and much of his magic had evaporated against Tokley and Bate.

Another first-round match that went down the 19th was between Andrew Robinson of Felixstowe Ferry, who beat Martin Holder of Bourne Hill Golf Range. Holder's lessons with top coach Dennis Pugh have done him a power of good.

Host professional Frank Hill was staging a late revival against Davies when he lost his ball at the par three 16th. Stuart Robertson of Ufford Park scored a notable win over Tim Cooper of Newton Green, who was one of the favourites after reaching the final of the Paul Wright and Co Suffolk Winter matchplay and being runner-up in the Millennium Trophy with Norfolk PFA at Weston Park in May. The Thorpeness course looked a picture in the sunshine and the greens were excellent although some of the pin positions proved tricky on the second day.

Suffolk PGA Matchplay scores

First round: Andrew Tokley (Stoke by Nayland) beat Joe Maskall (Hintlesham) one up, Andrew Robinson (Felixstowe Ferry) beat Martin Holder (Bourne Hill Golf Range) at 19th, Simon Dainty (Fynn Valley) beat Simon Reeve (Aldeburgh) 3 and 2, Richard Davies (Ipswich) beat Frank Hill (Thorpeness) 3 and 2, Paul Bate (Brett Vale) beat Keith Preston (Aldeburgh) at 19th, Stuart Robertson (Ufford Park) beat Tim Cooper (Newton Green) 4 and 3, Andrew Collison (Bungay) beat Kevin Earp (Bury Golf Range) 3 and 2, Andrew Cotton (Ufford Park) beat Tony Dobson (Stonham Barns) 2 and 1.

Second round: Tokley beat Robinson one up, Dainty beat Davies 5 and 3, Bate beat Robertson 3 and 2, Collison beat Cotton 3 and 2.

Semi-finals: Dainty beat Tokley 3 and 2, Bate beat Collison 2 and 1.

Final: Bate beat Dainty 2 and 1.

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