Andy leads the Captains’ final by one

Andy Vernon golf captains

Leicestershire’s Andy Vernon holds the halfway lead in the England Golf Captains’ Final – after returning to the event for the first time since back surgery three years ago.

Vernon, from Stapleford Park, scored 38 points in today’s first round on the Blue course at Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire.

He’s a point ahead of Martin Tate (Blackburn), while Alan Richardson (Scarborough North Cliff) and Chris Wise (Holtye) both scored 36 points.

They’re among 60 players from all over the country who qualified for the 36-hole hole final through six regional events for members of the England Golf Captains’ programme.

Their championship is being played as part of England Golf Week which brings over 500 competitors to Frilford Heath to take part in a series of finals during the five-day celebration of handicap golf.

Vernon was Stapleford Park club captain in 2006 and is playing in his fourth final, but his first since 20011, when he finished runner-up. “I had back surgery three years ago so I haven’t played any of these until this year when I qualified at Collingtree Park,” he said.

He played off five before his operations but is now a 10-handicapper and said: “This is one of my best rounds since I had surgery and the first time I have played under my handicap this year.”

Chasing him is Martin Tate, who was Blackburn club captain in 2012 and is playing in his second final. The seven-handicapper had a great back nine, coming home with 23 points.

Meanwhile Chris Wise, who was Holtye captain for two years between 2005/07, got off to a storming start with 22 points on his front nine. “Then I only scored five points in five holes before coming back again,” he said.

Click here for more information on the England Golf Captains’ programme.