October 4, 2008 - Old Links Trophy, Bolton Old Links
Ball’s a first time winner – and with borrowed clubs
LIAM Ball won his first Mitsushiba Northern Order of Merit title with a borrowed set of clubs he didn’t even have time to practice with.
The 18-year-old Chorley one handicapper finished top of the pile in the Bolton Old Links Trophy, the final fixture of the season, with rounds of 71 and 75 testing conditions.
But he was resigned to pulling out of the event when his clubs were stolen from the boot of his car parked in the driveway at his Westhoughton home three days earlier.
“I did not have another set but my clubmate Sam Stuart came to the rescue and lent me his irons because he was not playing,” he explained.
“I did not even get the chance to try them out and then felt strange when I picked them up because they were not like my own.
“They were the same make but had different shafts but I just went out and gave them a whirl. Sam told me later I could rent them for a fiver a day!”
With his nearest rival and fellow England player James Robinson, from Southport and Ainsdale, not competing, Stuart clinched runners-up spot in the merit behind Lancashire team-mate Mark Young, from Longridge, for the second time in three years and without hitting a ball.
But a cold, wet and windy day belonged to Ball who was beginning to wonder it he would win anything this season after losing the Bolton Championship final to clubmate Andrew Palmer and succumbing in the semi-finals of the Chorley club championship.
Ball, who studying golf management, nearly let it slip again when, after sharing the half-way lead made a potentially disastrous start to his afternoon round with a double bogey at the second hole, where he lost his drive, and dropped another stroke at the short fourth.
But he regained his composure, and the initiative, to win by three shots from host club player David Jones.
DETAILS: 146 Liam Ball (Chorley) 71 75; 149 David Jones (Bolton Old Links) 78 71; 151 John Scholes (Bolton Old Links) 76 75, Henry Tomlinson (Preston) 71 80; 152 Oliver Smith (Ashton-on-Mersey) 80 72, Steve Bryan (Bolton Old Links) 73 79; 153 Nick Uttley (Nelson) 78 75; 154 Daniel Sefton (Lancaster) 74 80; 156 Oliver Pantoja (Ashton-on-Mersey) 80 76, Stewart Tinsley (Leigh) 80 76, Connell Duffy (Bolton Old Links) 79 77, Aaron Watkinson (Manchester) 70 86.