Best on merit

Thompson, Ridden and Lowe win county order of merit titles

County golf’s marathon men for 2016 have been crowned as Durham’s Rhys Thompson, Northumberland’s Phil Ridden and Yorkshire’s Kealan Lowe have ended their county seasons top of their respective orders of merit.

In Durham, Rhys Thompson narrowly pipped Richard Aisbitt to the title to make it two wins in a row.

In the final event of the season at Brancepeth Castle, with Thompson not in the field, Aisbitt needed a top two finish to topple the Boldon Golf Club player. He fell just short, missing out on second place on a countback to finish just 10 points behind top spot.

Thompson said: “To win the order of merit for a second year is a big result. Our events are incredibly competitive, with so many players capable of winning throughout the year.

“I was a long way back before the Big Six, which I won, to jump right up. I followed that with a win at Ravensworth go get to top spot, and from there tweaked my calendar to play Rockliffe Hall. With a couple of events to go I thought I was safe, but Richard played some great golf and I only just managed to get over the line.

“To win is a huge boost. I’ve worked hard to become a more consistent player and winning the title back-to-back is proof that work has paid off.”

In Northumberland, Phil Ridden led the way with victory in the County Championship’s qualifying rounds – The Renwick Medal – and strong showings throughout the year.

He said: “I’m glad to win after an up and down year. The Renwick Medal and breaking the course record at the City of Newcastle in the process was a big highlight. It’s a bit of a surprise to pick it up having missed a few events, but I’m really happy to round of the season with the title.”

Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Wheatley’s Kealan Lowe won the season-long points race ahead of Moortown’s Ben Firth and Malton & Norton’s David Hague.