Zara reigns in Spain

Zara Naughton added to the region’s success in Spain this season with victory in the European Junior Open.

Matfen Hall-based Zara won the biggest title of her career in grand style at Alcaidesa Links – leading the elite field by eight shots.

Now in its 27th year, the event begins with qualifying throughout the season before a finals tournament played over five rounds.

Zara, 13, saved her best golf for the last day of the final with a three under-par final round of 71 to secure a comprehensive eight-shot victory. She posted rounds of 79, 78, 74, 79 and 71 – discarding her two 79s under the rules of the competition.

Gosforth Park Ladies and Whickham-based Faye Wheatley climbed the leaderboard on the final day to finish joint third – counting rounds of 78, 79 and 76 in the event.

Playing in the last group with Julia Kerrigan and Evanna Hynd, Zara was six under-par through the first nine holes. Two double bogeys and a bogey followed, but with birdies at the 13th and 18th she won in style in front of the Sky TV cameras.

Following the win, Zara thanked her coach at Matfen, JJ Vallely, and her grandad for helping her succeed this year. Her win follows finishing fourth in the event last year and being selected for the North of England U18 Regional Squad as well as England Schools.

Spain has proved a happy hunting ground for North East golfers in recent weeks as Garrick Porteous claimed his European Tour Card in Tarragona and Bishop Auckland cinched third place in the Annodata Championship in Cadiz.