Durham teenagers are PING champions

2015 PING winners Shannon O'Dwyer and Briony Bayles

Durham teenagers Briony Bayles and Shannon O’Dwyer birdied their way to victory in the 10th anniversary PING Fourball Betterball Grand Final.

The pair, from the Wynyard Club, birdied the first two holes and the last two holes on the Karsten Lakes course at PING’s Gainsborough Golf Club and notched up 43 points – to win by one.

They completed a clean sweep when Shannon won the putting prize, with an iPING handicap of +2.8; and Briony won the longest drive competition with a shot of 208 yards.

Shannon spoke for them both when she said: “It’s just great to say you’ve played in something like this and done well.”

They came through an initial entry of over 16,000 players from almost 850 clubs in the tournament, which is run by England Golf. The top 50 pairs in the country qualified for the Grand Final while the next 50 pairs went through to yesterday’s Plate Final.

“We played well apart from three holes where we had a bit of a struggle to get one point,” said Shannon, 18. Briony, 15, added: “We were all over the place on the 16th but we managed to scrape a point – and then we thought we needed to birdie the last two.”

Shannon obliged. She hit her tee shot on the par three 17th to about 4ft before holing out for a birdie. Then she rolled in a 20-footer on the 18th to clinch it.

At the start of the round it was Briony who set the pair on the road to victory with her birdies on the first two holes.

The pair both play for Durham, are regular foursomes partners, and are improving fast. Shannon has cut her handicap from six to four this season while Briony has come down from six to five.

The runners-up were another pair of youngsters. Sisters Carys and Kimberley Parker, from The Kendleshire, Gloucestershire, had 42 points and took the runners-up spot on countback.

“It’s been amazing,” said 12-year-old Kimberley, who plays off 23. Carys, aged 14 and a seven handicapper, said: “We’ve heard so much about this and I’ve loved it.”

One of their highlights was receiving the goodie bag which went to all Grand Finalists: a PING golf bag, a pair of ECCO shoes and a voucher for PING Collection clothing. “We were buzzing to see the bags!” said Carys.

Third place went to Devon’s Jackie Evans and Kim Burgess (Woodbury Park), who went out in the first group and set the target with their score of 42 points. They are friends who took up golf and achieved their first handicaps a couple of years ago – Jackie now plays off 31 and Kim off 34. “We’ve enjoyed the course, our partners were lovely and the goodie bag was fantastic, it was worth coming just for that!” said Jackie.

Last year, Angela Allington was refereeing for England Golf at the PING tournament. This time she was playing, and in partnership with Helen Perry, claimed fourth place for Market Harborough Golf Club, Leicestershire, with 42 points.

Fifth place, on countback, went to Tracey Rogers and Carol Annetts of Stock Brook Manor, Essex, who had 41 points. Mother and daughter, Helen and Rachel Boulton of Springwater, Nottinghamshire, were sixth, also with 41.

The PING tournament started in 2006 and was an instant success, with the Plate Final added to the Grand Final after three years.

Dave Fanning, PING’s European marketing manager, commented: “Each year we have seen how many people enjoy this, how many people take part and how much support we get from clubs. What’s so special about this is that it is open to lady golfers of all handicaps.”

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