Sun shines on Westley
PHIL Westley, the 19-year-old two-handicap Hintlesham player, battled successfully through two very close matches under blue skies at Aldeburgh to become the Sunshine Challenge champion for 2007.
By Tony Garnett
PHIL Westley, the 19-year-old two-handicap Hintlesham player, battled successfully through two very close matches under blue skies at Aldeburgh to become the East Anglian Daily Times Sunshine Challenge champion for 2007.
In the semi-final against George Courtney he recovered from being one down on the 14th tee to win two up despite the steady seven-handicap Courtney going round in 76. Westley's accurate putting from anything within six feet was a key to his success. Courtney will look back on losing the 16th, despite receiving a shot, as a devastating blow.
It proved to be a dramatic final for Westley against nine-handicap Tom Fairbrother, also aged 19, of Woodbridge. It was settled at the second extra hole.
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They were level at the turn with Westley out in 36 and Fairbrother in 38. Westley, who won two of the par three holes, established a two-hole advantage at the 12th but then lost the 14th to a par. Westley was two up again at the 15th after Fairbrother missed a short putt but he received a shot on the 16th and made it count with both players getting a par.
On the 148-yard 17th Westley was 12 feet from the pin to the right while Fairbrother was on the far left of the green with a tricky downhill putt. Fairbrother judged it well for his par. Westley's birdie putt to win the match missed narrowly.
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At the last Fairbrother's brave par, finished by sinking a seven-foot putt, kept him in the match after Westley's approach missed the green to the right and left a difficult downhill chip.
The first extra hole was halved in par. At the 368-yard second Westley was just short of the green in two and Fairbrother was pin high but in a greenside bunker on the right. Westley had no trouble in securing his par. Fairbrother's bunker shot was excellent but the five-foot putt he needed to keep the match alive hovered on the lip and failed to drop. Had Fairbrother survived that second hole he was due to receive a shot on the third.
The Aldeburgh course was in superb condition with fast and true greens with Westley commenting: “If you could read the line right you would sink the putt.”
In the other semi-final Fairbrother played solidly enough but Shaun Payne, a 15-handicap player from Rushmere, was out of sorts having a delayed return flight from Tenerife landing in the early hours of the morning. It was hardly ideal preparation to take on a testing course like Aldeburgh which shows no mercy to those who are wayward off the tee.
The presentation to the winner and runner-up was made by Perry Hunt, the Aldeburgh club captain.
In earlier rounds Westley beat Kevin Eagle at Rushmere on the second extra hole and Tom Wright of Rushmere, a county second team player, 2 and 1 at Hintlesham.
Westley will now represent the newspaper on the Portuguese Algarve between November 4 and 11 against the winners of eight other regional newspaper competitions in England and Scotland. The overall title, for which there is a prize of a long weekend for two, probably at Penina, will be decided with Stableford rounds at Morgado, Palmares and Pinta. There will be a practice round at Alamos on the Monday and an optional Texas Scramble on the Saturday at Gramacho.
The tournament headquarters is at the four-star Almansor Hotel at Carvoeiro which is on a cliff top overlooking the sea. A place in the Sunshine Challenge can be booked for £460 excluding flight or £304 for non golfers (tel. 0870 4012020).