Dream team – Luke Allen and David Whalen win Match Play Pairs 2022

Beamish Park’s Luke Allen and David Whalen outlast 59 other teams from across the region to win the 21st Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs tournament

After six months of matches across the region, Beamish Park’s Luke Allen and David Whalen were crowned Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs champions for 2022 following victory in the event’s final at George Washington.

Luke, who plays off a handicap of 17 and 18-handicapper David overcame Whitley Bay-based pair David Billham and Steve Weldon in the final to add their names to the trophy in the event’s 21st year and win the £600 prize.

“It’s fantastic to be the champions,” said David Whalen after the Beamish pair secured a 4&3 victory. “Having signed up just to give an inter-club event a go, we never expected to make it through a couple of stages, let alone win the whole thing. 

“The fourball betterball format suited us really well. Some weeks, I’d play well and others Luke would do a lot of the work. We definitely gelled well together and had a fantastic time all the way through the tournament.”

“It’s been an unbelievable experience, right from the first round, and I’m over the moon to put my name on the trophy beside David,” said Luke. “The format is something a bit different for me, getting out to other clubs and not having to solely rely on my own shots all the time. Teaming up with David was great too and we certainly worked well as a team.”

With Luke dating David’s daughter and the pair living together, teamwork and staying on the same page throughout the tournament proved key to their success.

“We definitely know each other pretty well now,” said David Whalen. “I know when Luke needs a little word to keep him right on the course, and he’s been great all the way through with big shots and putts when needed.

“We’ve been under pressure at times and got through some close games, but honestly getting past the first round was a bonus for me. Getting right the way through is a great feeling.”

“The key has been going out there and just playing golf our way,” added Luke.

David Whalen, Luke Allen and George Washington’s Bill Michie

In the final, all four players made nervy starts with their tee shots at the first, but a great approach shot from Steve led to an opening birdie. That quick start was then cancelled out by Luke at the second hole, where a nett birdie got the teams back to all square. 

Luke’s shot at the difficult par four fourth hole would also prove crucial as David Billham failed to make a nett par and the Beamish team took a 1up lead.

They would lose the advantage to comfortable bogeys at the next hole before regaining it at the seventh – David Whalen this time using his shot to make a nett par. The advantage would be doubled at the short par four eighth before the momentum turned once again at the ninth as David Billham made a huge putt for birdie to reduce the deficit to one at the turn.

A couple of halved holes steadied the match before the pivotal moment came at the 12th – Luke making a superb nett birdie with David Whalen out of the hole to double the lead and swing the match in their favour. His excellent pressure putt there would prove critical as David Whalen went on to make the only par three at the 13th. 

With all four players out of position at the 14th, Luke’s nett bogey was enough to stretch the advantage to four, and then a short putt for par for David Whalen was enough at the 15th to secure the half there and the 4&3 victory.

“It was a nervy start for sure,” said David Whalen. “It took some time to settle in but after the opening few holes we got into it.”

Luke added: “I felt absolutely fine, no nerves whatsoever… until we got to George Washington. I was a bundle of nerves by the time I got on the first tee.

“Once I settled down, it was about getting on with it, enjoying the game and the walk, and letting the result work itself out.”

“We said on the tee, what will be will be, and luckily it worked out in our favour this time,” added David Whalen.

Having progressed through the early stages – including wins on the third extra hole at Beamish in rounds two and three – Luke and David made it to the final with victory over the Durham City/South Moor pairing of Steven Dodds and Neville Wanless.

“I was keen to be part of the event so I could see other courses and play competitive golf against some new players,” said Luke on the season-long run of matches. “While I was always looking forward to the away draws, David was wanting to play at home as it’s such a big advantage to know the course.”

“Our quarter-final match against Craig and Jamie from Romanby was a big highlight for me. Playing so well around a new course, which was such a pleasure to play, was exactly what we’d wanted to do when we signed up,” added David Whalen.

2022 finalists David Whalen, Luke Allen, David Billham and Steve Weldon

Runners-up David Billham and Steve – who teamed up at short notice after Steve’s original partner was injured – received a £100 prize having reached the final with victory over the Burgham Park-based pair of Simon Watson and Russell Taylor.

Steve said: “A big well done to David and Luke, who played some great golf in the final and kept us at arm’s length for much of the day.

“I’ve always enjoyed match play and while we’ve played some very good golf to reach the final, we didn’t quite have our A games. Luke and David dovetailed perfectly for a well-deserved win.”

“It’s been brilliant to play new courses and meet like-minded people from other golf clubs right across the region,” added David Billham. “The tournament is a lot of fun and we’d highly recommend it to anyone as a way to get out and play some fun, competitive matches right across the North East.”

Having presented the trophy to the winning pair, George Washington’s Bill Michie said: “Congratulations to Luke and David on winning this year’s Match Play Pairs. We’re incredibly proud to have hosted the final stages of another successful year of the event. It’s always a pleasure to showcase our course, and to hear positive feedback from the players who took part in both the final and semi-finals.”

A huge thank you to all the players who have been part of this year’s tournament, which saw six rounds of matches completed between May and October. Northern Golfer’s thanks also go to all the clubs which have given courtesy to visiting players. A special thank you also goes to the management, greenstaff and clubhouse teams at George Washington.

For full results visit www.northerngolfer.co.uk/match-play-pairs-2022

Match Play Pairs will return in 2023 and further details will be published in the new year.