English Open for Golfers with a Disability: Stone claims rock-solid victory

Ireland’s Conor Stone fought off a late challenge from England’s Brad Smith to claim victory in the English Open for Golfers with a Disability.

The Dubliner posted rounds of 72 and 77 over the Cheshire Course at Carden Park to win by three from his nearest rival on a score of +3.

Smith – part of the England side which claimed bronze at the recent European Team Championships in Belgium – put himself in contention for a comeback win with a sparkling front nine on day two of the 36-hole stroke play event.

The man from Royal Cromer reached the turn in three-under par helped by an eagle at the second hole and a birdie at the fifth.

However, Stone – who has ambitions to turn pro later this summer – had enough in reserve having built up a six-shot lead over his rivals on day one.

The 27-year-old followed up his one-under par opening round with a four-over par second round. That allowed him to make it a hat-trick of victories after an individual win on the EDGA circuit and a gold medal with Ireland at the recent Euros.

“It’s nice for an Irishman to win the English national championship. It’s unreal,” admitted the Carton House golfer who developed scoliosis as a teenager and has undergone multiple operations on his spine.

“It’s great and it’s three in a row. I won in France in April and we won the European Championships with Ireland which is unreal and to top it off with this week is class.

“I came over hoping to win but faced stiff competition with Brad, Alan and loads of lads. I knew the course would make it tough, but I’m over the moon.”

Another Irishman, Alan Gaynor from County Sligo, took third spot in Cheshire after rounds of 79 and 77.

Lindrick’s Ellis Keenan was fourth on +12 after shooting 81 and 76.

In the women’s nett competition, 17-year-old Heather Gilks from Coventry took the honours beating mum and fellow England international Martine by two shots.

The men’s nett winner was Sam MacDonald from Crosland Heath while Richard Saunders (pictured above) from Stoke by Nayland was top in the Stableford event with a fantastic 89 points from his two rounds.

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