Durham champion Richard Aisbitt shot five-under par 67 today to equal the course record at the Northumberland Golf Club and take the first round lead in the Logan Trophy.
He’s a stroke ahead of past champion, Martin Young from Hampshire, while three other players beat par in the bright and breezy conditions. They include Northumberland county captain Andrew Minnikin who is a member of the host club.
Among the spectators at the first tee was George Logan, who presented the trophy for the English men’s open mid-amateur championship in 1988 and is a past president of both Northumberland and the English Golf Union, now England Golf.
Richard Aisbitt (Brancepath Castle) set off in great style with birdies on the first three holes, rolling in putts of between 10 and 25ft. “It got a bit harder as I made my way round the course,” he said – but his card told another story.
He had only one bogey – on the short fifth, where he missed the green, before amassing three more birdies. “The course was playing beautifully and I think yesterday’s rain helped because you could throw the ball up and get a bit of spin.”
Aisbitt (image © Leaderboard Photography), who has now won the Durham title three times, was Northern boys’ champion twice and a member of England training squads. He had a brief spell in professional ranks before reverting to amateur status.
He’s being chased by Hampshire’s Martin Young who won the Logan in 2006 and is seeking his second win this week. Next year, the championship will be played at his home course of Brockenhurst Manor in Hampshire and he’d love to be defending. “It would be a dream come true,” he said.
He made a spectacular start and was six-under par after eight holes, having eagled the third and birdied the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth.
“The start was unbelievable,” said Young, who holed a 50-footer on the third, a 20-footer on the next and a 10-footer on the fourth. He slowed down a little in the middle of the round, with three bogeys in four holes, but another birdie on the 15th helped him to 68.
“It’s a good start, it’s something to move on from,” said Young, who is a past winner of the Lagonda Trophy and the Hampshire Salver. He also played in last year’s inaugural Concession Cup, which is contested by teams of mid-amateurs and seniors from GB&I and the USA.
Northumberland captain Andrew Minnikin has opted to play in the Logan over his own county championship, despite leading the qualifiers for the matchplay stages. “Knowing George so well meant this was always going to be the one,” said Minnikin, who has previously won the county title.
He is enjoying a very good season, having won three county events and made it through to final qualifying for The Open. He underlined his form today, playing at the end of the field in the increasingly breezy conditions, and with the added pressure of being at home.
“I got off to a slow start but birdied two of the last four holes to make it a nice respectable round,” he said. “It was tough having a late tee time and being at home, knowing there was a score to be had.”
Meanwhile defending champion Martin Foulkes (Worksop) made a disappointing start, reaching the turn in six-over before battling back in one-under for a total of 77.
Sweden’s Daniel Sandman made short work of the 171-yard seventh, where he had a hole-in one using an eight-iron. He hunted for the ball behind the green before looking in the cup to discover he had had his fourth ace, three of them in competition. Sandman is part of a three-man Swedish squad taking part in the championship.
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