James the first

James Harper has lifted the NE/NW PGA Matchplay Championship trophy – beating Darren Pearce 2up in the final at South Moor.

Wynyard-based James, who has also won the Penrith and Whitley Bay pro ams this season, beat Close House’s Jonathan Lupton in the semi-final en-route to his first win in the annual event.

He said: “It’s a great feeling to win my first major on the NE/NW PGA circuit. This season has been a really solid one with a couple of pro am wins and lots of very good scores; I’m really happy with my year overall.

“The matchplay has been a fantastic event this year, playing so many brilliant players from across the region. To beat the likes of Simon Robinson and Andy Paisley in extra holes then to come out on top against Darren in the final is a great feeling.

“Darren’s golf in the final was superb. I managed to go 4up through four holes but he clawed me back to 1up through 15, while I didn’t drop a shot! I managed to birdie 16 and make a par down the last to complete the win, but I knew any mistakes would be punished the way he was playing.

“I’m looking forward to playing as much as possible in the months ahead and into next season – I’m really enjoying being back playing as much as I can.”

Meanwhile, a busy diary of pro ams has seen a number of our region’s best pros take home winner’s cheques. In the Hartlepool Pro Series event, South Moor’s Mark Ridley strengthened his position at the top of the order of merit with a round of 69 – one shot better than the nine players tied for second place one shot back.

In the MKM Pro Shoot Out at Rockliffe Hall – which saw the top 16 players progress from an 18-hole strokeplay event into three-hole matchplay shootouts where ties were decided with a 100-yard nearest the pin shootout – Vincent Guest took home the title by beating Mark Ridley in the final by pitching to 4ft in the shootout.

Meanwhile, George Cowan, Craig Goodfellow, Ryan Ingram and Mark Ridley shared the top prize following their rounds of 69 at the Goswick Pro Am. At Brampton, Simon Robinson and Alex Wrigley shared top spot with their rounds of 66 while Mathew Webb won the Middlesbrough Muni Pro Am with a round of 64.

Andrew Scrimshaw returned from a stint on the Alps Tour to win the Bellingham Pro Am with a round of 69 while Northern Golfer tips pro John Harrison won the Crook Pro Am with a round of 67.