Biggs retains Suffolk Amateur Championship after extra hole drama at Rookery Park

SUFFOLK AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP (from left): Suffolk Golf Union president Colin Firmin, Sam Debenham (r

SUFFOLK AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP (from left): Suffolk Golf Union president Colin Firmin, Sam Debenham (runner-up), James Biggs (champion with Todd Cup) and Mick Varley, captain of host club Rookery Park Photo: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

James Biggs of Diss retained the Todd Cup as Suffolk Amateur champion by winning a play-off against Sam Debenham of Hintlesham at the second extra hole at Rookery Park.

Debenham’s opening round of four under par 68 put him three shots clear of Suffolk county captain Jack Cardy with Biggs four shots off the pace with level par.

Cardy, who had started the day with an eagle at the 10th, found that his putter went cold in the afternoon. Biggs, though, stayed steady while Debenham let shots slip away.

They were level par for the tournament on the 18th tee and birdied the last hole to set the target at one under.

Biggs, though, must have had his heart in his mouth as Debenham’s eagle putt stopped six inches short.

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The play-off was sudden death on the 17th and 18th holes. The 41-year-old Debenham looked a shade rusty after a lengthy wait as they had been in the first group.

His tee shot found trouble on the left while Biggs was perfectly placed on the fairway.

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Debenham was on the green in three 25 feet from the pin. Biggs was 10 feet from the pin in two.

Showing the battling qualities that has seen him restored to the Suffolk first team, Debenham sunk the putt. Biggs missed so they were off down the 479-yard par five18th.

Debenham’s second shot ended in grassy rough to the right of the green while Biggs, just short of a greenside bunker, was left with a simple chip. There was no escape for Debenham this time. He had to settle for the John Doe Salver.

The club house leaders were almost caught by Jed Seeley of Newton Green whose second round of three under par 69 lifted him into third place.

Seventeen-year-old Habebul Islam, the Ipswich junior captain, was well placed with two holes to play. After an opening round of one over par 73, he was one under for the tournament on the 17th tee.

After a series of superb tee shots, this time his ball ended in rough on the left. He could not get out first time. Then a bunker and three putts ended his challenge.

That left Paul Waring of Felixstowe Ferry needing an eagle on the last to be involved in the play-off. It was not to be.

Simon Bearman of Newton Green, soon to join the ranks of the seniors, was level par in the morning but fell away in the afternoon.

Rookery Park’s hopes rested with Calvin Sherwood and Luke Thompson. Sherwood’s 75 and 74 left him in eighth place.

Thompson started the day on the 10th when he took an iron off the tee for safety but still ended in trouble and took a seven. His second round of 71 showed what might have been.

Conal Downing, the Suffolk junior champion from Rookery, withdrew with a neck injury after playing 10 holes.

Danny Western produced a tired 77 in the morning. He had only just returned from a 10th place finish in the European Mid-Amateur championship in Bulgaria. He retired during his second round.

Habebul Islam, George Fricker, Alfie Halil and Tom Auchterlonie are all entered in next week’s Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters at Nizels Golf Club. Fricker had 151 while Halil, who won the Suffolk Open on this course last year, had 159.

Chris Fleming, who has moved to Suffolk from Perranporth in Cornwall, had two rounds of 73 to help Ipswich to become champion club together with Habebul and Sam Byford.

They will represent the county at Huddersfield on September 22 and 23.

Monty Scowsill was unable to take part because of glandular fever.

The Rookery Park course was in splendid condition. The greens, which had been ironed, were fast. Wide though most of the fairways were, many found trouble in the trees.

A swan watched proceedings and became aggressive if anyone came too close. Relief was granted in such circumstances.

Suffolk Amateur Championship

143: J Biggs (Diss) 72 71, S Debenham (Hintlesham) 68 75. Biggs beat Debenham at second play-off hole. 144: J Seeley (Newton Green) 75 69. 145: P Waring (Felixstowe Ferry) 72 73. 146: L Thompson (Rookery Park) 75 71; C Fleming (Ipswich) 73 73. 147: Habebul Islam (Ipswich) 73 74. 149: C Sherwood (Rookery Park) 75 74. 151: C Taylor (Diss) 78 73; G Fricker (Ufford Park) 77 74. 152: G Tait (Aldeburgh) 76 76. 154: R Oakey (Newton Green) 75 79; J Cardy (Hintlesham) 71 83. 155: J Robertson (Ufford Park) 78 77, B Sayers (Felixstowe Ferry) 78 77; S Byford (Ipswich) 75 80. 156: C Bartrum (Diss) 79 77; W Wright (Aldeburgh) 74 82. 157: L Martin (Haverhill) 80 77; M Adams (Bury St Edmunds) 78 79; J Butcher (Gorleston) 77 80. 158: B Newman (Rookery Park) 83 75; M Closs (Diss) 79 79; J Tyler (Ipswich) 77 81. 159: A Halil (Flempton) 78 81, S Bearman (Newton Green) 72 87. 160: I Fryer (Aldeburgh Artisans) 80 80, M Duszynski (Ipswich) 76 84. 160: G Maynard (Southwold) 76 84. 161: T Auchterlonie (Woodbridge) 82 79. 162: J Reiss (Aldeburgh) 76 86, A Sheldrake (Felixstowe Ferry) 75 87. 163: A Cunningham (Bury St Edmunds) 81 82; C Sadler (Flempton) 80 83. 164: S Crosby (Gorleston) 84 80. 165: J Goulton (Ipswich) 84 81, K McCredie (Stowmarket) 82 83; C Duffy (Gorleston) 81 84. 168: J Fisher (Rookery Park) 82 86, J Chadd (Gorleston) 82 86. 170: J Brunssen (Flempton) 95 75; D Rosser (Woodbridge) 85 85. 171: J Forgan (Stowmarket) 80 91. 172: G Hills (Felixstowe Ferry) 86 86. 173: G Monegal (Flempton) 89 84; J Cuthbert (Thorpeness) 83 90. 178: J Holland (Woodbridge) 89 89, M Orton (Flempton) 88 90. 179: B Stammers (Hintlesham) 94 85. 183: L Hansey (Bungay) 98 85; K Woods (Gorleston) 83 100.

No return: J Millard (Bury St Edmunds) 87 nr., J Maddock (Gorleston) nr 86, C Nurse (Bury St Edmunds) 76 nr, D Western (Gorleston) 77 nr. C Stammers (Diss) 85 nr. B Coleman (Bury St Edmunds) 75 nr. A Taylor (Bungay) 84 nr.

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