Florida joy for Gregor Tait as he shoots a career best 67 in Palm City

Gregor Tait with his trophy after winning the Martin Downs Collegiate title, in Florida. Photograph:

Gregor Tait with his trophy after winning the Martin Downs Collegiate title, in Florida. Photograph: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Tony Garnett takes a look at the local golf scene, including the recent Suffolk Winter Alliance meeting at Diss

Aldeburgh’s Gregor Tait had the best round of his career of five under par 67 on the Osprey Creek course at the Martin Downs Golf Club at Palm City in Florida. He had five birdies and 13 pars.

Tait, also an Ipswich member, started his golfing career at Seckford. He was Suffolk amateur champion in 2016.

The Seton Hall freshman followed up with rounds of 69 and 71 to win the Big East men’s golfer of the week as tournament leader.

He helped his team into second place in the UNCG Martin Downs Collegiate tournament.

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The Seton College players, known as The Pirates, are based near New York. They are having sunshine golf to escape the wintry weather.

Osprey Creek, 7,000 yards long, has been used for qualifiers for both the PGA Tour and the United States Open.

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Paul Waring (Felixstowe Ferry) has been playing in South Africa while other members of the Suffolk squad are putting up with the chill in England.

Haverhill’s Laurie Hastie and Eamon Bareham defied the bitterly cold win to win the Suffolk Winter Alliance better ball prize at Diss on Sunday with 41 Stableford points.

Stowmarket’s Europro Tour player Sam Forgan, the only professional in the field, was runner-up with his brother Ben with 40 points.

Third place went to John Williams and John Smith of Stoke by Nayland with 39 points on count back from four other pairs.

The next Alliance meeting, another better-ball event, is scheduled for Seckford on March 7.

Other scores

39: G Davis and G Howard, M Baxter and J Partridge, P Flanagan and S Kidby, C Leathers and J Gilham.

38: R Gardiner and G Borthwick, L Gregory and A Goodwin.

37: R Deasy and L Osborn, R Davies and D Yates.

36: J Cunnell and S Pollexfen, R Benson and I Benson, L O’Donovan and S Brown, J Hastie and R Hastie.

35: G Clemson and D Bumstead, T Wall and C Morris, T Lyons and S Rex, P Bartlett and S Turner, Lyn Fish and M Williamson, R Ross and R Clayden, A Fish and K Rooney, C Briggs and D Simpkin, M Mansfield and D Wilkins.

34: J Snow and S Lythell, L Hart and R Cansell.

33: A Brown and L Norman, M Robinson and S Cousins.

32: P Samain and R Walters.

31: T Mitchell and T Carman, P McClennan and G Scott.

30: C Leys and T Etheridge, B Castle and T Broomfield, P Walters and A Cherry.

27: S Gray and W Darling, R Hood and M Milner.

24: G Courtney and T Dinwiddy.

It is splendid news that Felixstowe Ferry became the first winner of England Golf’s Championship of the Year award for the enthusiastic way they hosted the England Women’s County finals.

Suffolk Ladies, East champions for the first time, finished third behind Yorkshire and Gloucestershire.

Royal North Devon will be the hosts this year, a long trip for Suffolk if Vanessa Bell’s players can retain their East title at Woodbridge starting on May 11.

The rearranged Felixstowe Ferry February Four Ball competition was won by Simon Dainty and amateur partner Sam Kinane by the narrowest of margins.

Three pairs returned a score of 42 Stableford points. Third-placed Lewis Atkinson (Stock Brook) and Charlie Luxford had 19 points on their back nine. The other two pairs had 20.

Eventually it was settled on the back one, the stroke index one hole, when Dainty and Kinane had three points and while Joe Tatum and Matt Toms had only two.

Sam Forgan (Stowmarket) and Alex Bligh had 41 points to take fourth place.

Forgan was leading professional. His round of three under par 69 beat Hugo Dobson (Woodbridge) by two shots.

Other professional scores were: 74: Lewis Atkinson and Scott Hudson (The Warren). 75: Paul Maddy (Gog Magog). 76: Miles Collins (Stoke by Nayland). 78: Peter Latimer (Felixstowe Ferry). No return: Paul Wilby (Haverhill).

Other better ball scores included:

40: Paul and Alan Maddy, John Masters and Hugo Dobson. 39: Wayne Chipperfield and Scott Hudson. 36: Bob Tokley and Richard Bland. 35: Peter White and Gary Whitworth, Gerald and Miles Collins, Peter Latimer and Ian Buxton. 33: Paul Wilby and Roger Toone.

The Sunningdale Foursomes heralds the start of the new golf season. This year there will be plenty of local interest so long as the “Beast from the East” has relented by March 6.

Suffolk will be represented by former Welsh boys’ captain Rhodri Harston (Felixstowe Ferry) and Rushmere assistant Will Farley with their respective playing partners.

Former Suffolk junior Sam Truman was a member at Woodbridge. He is now a professional at Reigate Hill and must be keeping his game in good shape. Jon Bevan, a former Suffolk PGA champion now at Sherborne, captained the Great Britain and Ireland team which beat the Americans in the PGA Cup in 2015. Both will hope to play a few rounds on the woodland course,

Ben Kerr (Bourn) plays with European Tour player Paul Maddy (Gog Magog) while former Suffolk county captain Dave Quinney will partner Gog Magog’s Nick Smits.

Former Walker Cup player Dale Whitnell and Jay Beisser (Basildon) play together.

East Region professionals in the field include Mark Davis, Andrew George, Glen Portelli, Darren Charlton and Tony Charnley.

Sporting personalities include Tim Henman and Sandy Lyle who has teamed up with Jamie Spence.

The PGA in England East, a long-winded name for what used to be a simple PGA East Region, has five order of merit events arranged for this year.

New venues are Ingrebourne Valley and Millbrook. The other three will be at West Essex, Bentley and Bishop’s Stortford.

There has been spectacular development at Ingrebourne with a new club house.

Alan Walker, a former PGA captain and a member of the European Institute of Golf Course architects, has been working on new holes. They are sure to provide an interesting test. Walker also owns Garon Park Golf Club near Southend.

The qualifying schools are at Essendon (March 26 and 27) and at Colchester (April 19 and 20).

The Searles Spring Classic will again be staged at King’s Lynn and Hunstanton on April 11 and 12. The Marston’s Summer Classic is at Royal Cromer and Sheringham on July 3 and 4.

The Marston’s Beer Company Autumn Classic will again be hosted by Felixstowe Ferry and Woodbridge on October 4 and 5.

Among a full schedule of pro-ams, there will be those at Haverhill on July 25, Colchester two days later and Links (Newmarket) on August 9.

This year’s East captain is Daniel Field of East Herts. Mark Stokes has joined Simon Sheppard’s team at Bishop’s Stortford after 15 years at Rayleigh Golf Range. Stokes was East captain in 2016. Sheppard succeeded him.

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