2018: A year to remember

We look back at a year of local, national and international success for golfers across the region

Chris Paisley started the year with a bang by winning his first European Tour title, the BMW South African Open with his wife Keri caddying. Chris’ first European Tour win was followed by a stellar run of form, which included a tied-fifth finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and a fifth place finish at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic as he posted a 66 under-par total in a four-event run. Elsewhere, Graeme Storm became an honorary vice president of the Durham County Golf Union and Northumberland-based caddy Michael Burrow helped Haotong Li win the Dubai Desert Classic.

Callum Tarren launched his PGA Tour Series-China season with his first runner-up finish of 2018 (more of him later), Alnmouth’s Jake Storey won his second Georgia Southern Individual Collegiate title in the US, and 11-year-old Maggie Whitehead starred on our April cover as she set out her plans for the future.

As Patrick Reed donned the green jacket at Augusta, our region’s success north of the border in 2018 kicked off with Rosie Belsham’s second place finish in the Scottish Girls’ Open Championship while Tyneside’s James Wilson picked up a win at Crail. Northumberland’s Paul Caldicott and Andrew Gibson lifted the Inter County Foursomes title, and City of Newcastle’s Jack Hermeston ended his college career in the US by helping his University of Missouri Kansas City team lift the Western Athletic Conference Championship. European Tour caddy Michael Burrow starred on our May cover following a stellar start to the season alongside Haotong Li.

South Moor’s Chris Handy returned from the US to retain his Durham County Strokeplay Championship title, and star on our June cover. County golf was back in full swing and Jessica Hall captured her third Durham County Ladies Championship while Bedlington’s Ami Storey won the Northumberland Ladies County Championship for a sixth time. On the men’s side, Alnmouth’s Andy Minnikin won Northumberland’s North & South Trophy. Following a delayed end to the 2017 season, Malton & Norton lifted the North East Rabbits Golf Association title.

In the midst of the finest season of his life, PGA professional Mark Ridley starred on our July cover having won the NE/NW PGA Championship. Meanwhile, as Brooks Koepka defended his US Open title at Shinnecock Hills, Sam Connor won the EuroPro Tour’s Longhirst Hall stop and Castle Eden’s Ryan Dixon won the Welsh Youths title at Wenvoe Castle. In county golf, Andy Minnikin won the Northumberland County Championship at Blyth and Eaglescliffe’s Will Skipp won the Durham County Boys Championship.

As the region was bathed in glorious summer sunshine and Francesco Molinari put on a links golf masterclass around Carnoustie to win The Open, Durham’s best golfers shone in July. Six of the county’s best female golfers featured on our August cover ahead of jetting off to scholarships in the US while Heworth’s Will Marshall won the Durham County Matchplay Championship, and James Wilson won the Faldo Series event at Moortown. In the senior ranks, Ramside’s John Kirkpatrick won the Durham Seniors Championship to book a trip to Woodhall Spa while in the professional ranks, Callum Tarren posted his sixth runner-up finish in 11 events on the PGA Tour Series-China. Northumberland also provided multiple highlights in a busy month – Westerhope’s Brad Robinson returned from the US to win a second title over the Old Course at St Andrews in the Boyd Quaich, Bedlingtonshire-based Mat Webb won the PGA North Region Championship and Whitley Bay’s Rosie Belsham represented England for the first time in Norway – where Cumbria’s Cailtin Whitehead won her first international title at the European Young Masters.

Sam Broadhurst, son of tour legend Paul, won the North of England Youth Championship at Middlesbrough Golf Club in August. League golf came to its conclusion as City of Newcastle Golf Club lifted the Newcastle & District League trophy for a record fourth consecutive year. Gosforth Park Ladies’ Jess Baker made her England debut at Pannal, and Close House’s Amy Buchan won the 2018 American Golf Junior Championship final at Gainsbrough. Our region’s success at the Home of Golf continued in August with Zara Naughton winning the girls 11-12 title at the Wee Wonders 2018 Grand Final and Houghton-le-Spring’s Sean Foster winning the Eden Trophy.

The 2018 Champions of Champions were crowned at Ramside Hall as Gosforth Park Ladies’ Jess Baker won the ladies title, Whitley Bay’s Rosie Belsham won the junior title and Bishop Auckland’s James Glenn won the men’s title. Meanwhile, Ramside’s John Kirkpatrick was crowned English Senior Men’s County Champion of Champions at Woodhall Spa – and there was the small matter of Europe winning back the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. Continuing their successful seasons, Heworth’s Zara Naughton (12) and Will Marshall (19) became the youngest-ever winners of the Durham County Mixed Foursomes Championship and Blyth’s Jake Bullivant won his first US collegiate event.

Durham City’s Gary Atkinson and Stephen Carter starred on our cover following their win in our season-long Match Play Pairs tournament. In a month filled with international success, Callum Tarren picked up another runner-up finish in China as he topped the tour’s order of merit and secured his card for the 2019 Web.com Tour season in the US. In the US, Brad Robinson won the Donald Ross Intercollegiate Championship while in Spain, Nick McCarthy won the EuroPro Tour’s Tour Championship to secure his Challenge Tour card. Meanwhile in Ireland, Jess Baker and Rosie Belsham teamed up with Caitlin Whitehead as England beat Ireland. Closer to home, Eaglescliffe’s Solomon Canning won the Lookers Junior Masters at Close House, Malton & Norton and South Moor won the NERGA Inter and Rabbits titles respectively, and Chester le Street’s James Lusk won the Race2Rockliffe.