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Yorkshire Challenge champs

A BIRDIE on Ganton’s infamous closing hole proved decisive for Howley Hall duo James Appleyard and Miles Foster in the Yorkshire Challenge.

They won by a single point over three rounds played on Yorkshire’s triumvirate of Ryder Cup courses, but Appleyard’s steely three was made even more remarkable after Foster had declared on the last tee that he had never completed the hole despite playing the course “about a dozen times”.

When the Ryder Cup was played at the North Yorkshire course in 1949, US captain Ben Hogan described the drive on the 18th as being one of the hardest he had encountered .At that time the hole measured a little over 300 yards compared to today’s 395.

And Appleyard, who plays off two, admitted it wasn’t exactly what he wanted to hear.

“I have to say his timing wasn’t perfect. I just turned to him and said ‘you will today’, but when he blasted it into the trees I knew it was down to me,” he said. With his partner in the grip of his nemesis, Appleyard spit the fairway with a 3 wood and then hit a beautifully flighted 5 iron from 165 yards, into a gusting wind, to just 8 feet.

But Foster would soon redeem himself. Despite having his ball firmly in pocket, he gave his partner a crucial read on the putt. Appleyard confessed that he had seen a different line to his partner.

“I asked him to take a look at the putt as I thought it might go to the wire, and he got it spot on,” he said. “I saw it coming from the right, but Miles saw it the other way. He is a brilliant putter so I decided to trust his eye and started it slightly left and it went right in the middle of the hole.”

Appleyard and Foster started the third and final round with a three-point lead in the overall event, which is played over three consecutive days, and also had a five-point lead in the Moortown Series after amassing 44 points at the Leeds course and the same haul at Lindrick.

Foster, who is Operations Director for Morrisons M Stores, added: “We knitted really well over the first two days, but Ganton was more of a challenge for us especially on the front nine.”

They only managed 17 points going out, including an uncharacteristic ‘blob’ on the 8th before six-handicap Foster hit back on the 13th with a gross birdie nett eagle for four points to get them back on track, despite hitting his three wood approach in to one of Ganton’s 120 bunkers.

“I was in one of the fairway bunkers short of the green, but managed to get it up and down and that was one of my best shots of the day,” added Foster.

Appleyard added to the momentum with a nett birdie on the next, but the 16th almost cost them the tournament, both failing to complete the hole. Appleyard then hit it onto the front of the green on the par 4 17th with a hybrid, but three putted. With their heads down once again, Appleyard drew on a previous experience over the same course in the late 80’s.

“I was three down with three to play against James Hepworth in the Yorkshire Amateur and when I asked my caddie Tommy Carr for the yardage on the 16th he replied ‘does it really, matter we are dormie 3 down’.

“I told him never to give in and managed to claw back against James, and I repeated those words to Miles on the last tee, “Appleyard said.

Foster added: “We had to dig deep at times and overcome not scoring any points on two holes in the last round, but it was a great feeling to lift the trophy with Jimmy.”

The Lindrick pairing of Bailey Gill and Julian Maturi, inset left, finished second and also took the Ganton Series.

Appleyard and Foster, whose 126 total was a record for the event, also triumphed in the Moortown Series while Bawtry’s Nile House and his partner John Davies triumphed in the Lindrick flight.

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