Out to Africa

Regional winners make it through to the HowDidiDo Morocco Matchplay

Ramside’s Neil Stein topped the leaderboard at Slaley Hall to win a place in the grand final of the 2016 Morocco Matchplay powered by HowDidiDo next February.

He’ll be joined by David Jenkinson, 52, a 14-handicapper who plays at Wearside and 11-handicapper Kevin Bowman, 42, who plays at Roseberry Grange, in Marrakech after they finished third in the regional pairs final.

Coachbuilder Neil, from Newton Aycliffe, scored 40 points while Jenkinson and Bowman scored 42 to finish just one point behind the winners.

Luck was not with the North East’s other competitors however as they all missed out on the trip.

Darlington’s Paul Knight, a 45-year-old sheet-metal worker, who plays off 16, could muster only 27 points in the singles while Billingham’s 58-year-old 12-handicapper David McNeill, an administrator from Fishburn, and retiree Dennis Wright, 66, from Billingham, who also plays off 12, finished third in the senior pairs to miss out by just one place.

In the pairs competition, Jason Budd and Shaun Brown, both members at Crook, finished in the middle of the field.

Stein was naturally jubilant. He said: “I can’t believe it – it hasn’t sunk in yet! This is the first time I have played in this competition and I’ve really enjoyed it.

“It was not until the ninth, where I chipped in for a birdie, that I got my game going and I just played steadily from then. Going to Morocco to play tournament golf makes you feel like a professional golfer. I have never been there before but I am expecting sunshine and gleaming golf courses.”

Jenkinson said: “It’s exciting to be going somewhere different like Morocco to play golf and I am over the moon. It only sunk in after I told my wife and daughter about it.”

His partner, Bowman, a former secretary and director of Roseberry Grange Community Golf Club near Chester-le-Street, added: “This is our first time in Africa and we hope to keep our form going because we’ve been golf partners for three years now and are unbeaten in matchplay.”

In total, 32 golfers from the two regional finals will enjoy complimentary return flights courtesy of event partner British Airways, five nights luxury bed-and-breakfast accommodation in the five-star Palmeraie Palace; four rounds of championship golf on the Robert Trent Jones-designed Palm Golf Marrakech Palmeraie, a welcome cocktail reception, a gala dinner and prize presentation.