Westley finishes in third place
THE 16th Sunshine Challenge on the Portuguese Algarve lived up to its name with sunshine every day. East Anglian Daily Times champion Phil Westley from Hintlesham, playing off a handicap of one, took third place in the special three-round Stableford competition between winners of events run in the United Kingdom by regional newspapers.
By Tony Garnett
THE 16th Sunshine Challenge on the Portuguese Algarve lived up to its name with sunshine every day.
East Anglian Daily Times champion Phil Westley from Hintlesham, playing off a handicap of one, took third place in the special three-round Stableford competition between winners of events run in the United Kingdom by regional newspapers.
Nineteen-year-old Westley produced the best overall gross scores of the week beating two players from Scotland who played off handicaps of two.
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After a nervous start to his opening round at Morgado, when he missed a couple of short par putts and then found water with his drive at the par five third, Westley settled down to return 34 Stableford points including five birdies.
In his second round at Palmares, where the club had run out of course planners, scoring was generally low with many of the greens difficult to read. Westley had 29 points which left him in mid-table in this handicap event.
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In his final round at Pinta, the most difficult test of the week, Westley hit a spell of splendid form.
He started with a birdie at the dogleg 10th hole and was two under par after playing nine holes despite missing a short tap-in putt.
Holes one to nine were more testing but it was not until he dropped a couple of shots on two of the final three holes that he had to settle for a level par round from the back tees.
Westley is one of the most improved golfers in Suffolk with a determined streak that saw him score dramatic victories at extra holes on his way to qualifying for the trip to Portugal.
He beat the 2006 winner, Suffolk player Kevin Eagle, at the third extra hole at Rushmere, and won his final against Tom Fairbrother of Woodbridge at the second extra hole at Aldeburgh.
Richard Stone, who started the week with a handicap of 16 from Goodwood Golf Club in Sussex, was the runaway winner. He amassed 44 points round Morgado when he sunk putts from all ranges. His handicap was reduced to 12 by the tournament organiser Peter Golding but that failed to keep him in check.
He had 36 points at Palmares despite losing his ball at the dogleg sixth hole and only a massive collapse at Pinta could rob him to the title and a long weekend for two at Penina. His game held firm and his 33 points left him way out ahead of the field.
Stone is a former junior at Bury St Edmunds Golf Club and was educated at County Upper School. He still has family living in Rougham.
The competition will be run again next year with the first round in May.
The entry fee will remain the same at £15 with a £5 discount if entries are paid up before the end of January. Competitors will receive a Greg Norman shirt.
The four EADT semi-finalists Westley, Fairbrother, George Courtney (Woodbridge) and Shaun Payne will all receive a free entry for next year.