Phil Ridden survived a nail-biting finish to win the Logan Trophy and then spoke of his pride at taking the silverware back to Northumberland.
Ridden – a member at the City of Newcastle Golf Club – carded a final round of 75 to end the 54-hole championship with a winning score of five over par (215).
The civil servant crossed the line to win the English Mid-Amateur Championship by a solitary shot from a chasing group of four players.
Andrew Minnikin (City of Newcastle), Simon Richardson (Spalding), Mike Henson (Rockliffe Hall) and Ian Kenwright (Haydock Park) missed out on a play-off by the smallest of margins over three days of play at Thorpeness Golf Club in Suffolk.
Ridden’s victory came only after some drama on the 18th hole. He closed with a double bogey six and then breathed a sigh of relief when playing partner Henson missed a six-footer for par to force a play off.
Richardson also had a story to tell that falls into the ‘if only’ category.
Just prior to Ridden and Henson playing the last, the Lincolnshire county champion lipped out for eagle. Had his four-iron from 192 yards dropped instead of horseshoeing around the cup then he would have forced Ridden into a play-off.
For Ridden, it was a poignant moment when he lifted a trophy gifted to England Golf in 1988 by the late George Logan, a stalwart of golf in the north-east and a former president of the English Golf Union, who sadly passed away in 2020.
He said: “George is well-known back home in Northumberland and is a bit of legend in the north-east so it’s definitely coming home this time.
“I’d like to dedicate this to George’s memory.”
Ridden – who held the lead after both 18 and 36 holes – started the day with a three-shot advantage over playing partner Henson.
The Geordie’s expert scrambling skills enabled him to get up and down four times in the first five holes on a course that demands accuracy off the tee and a sure touch on the greens.
Even after a run of three bogeys from the fifth hole, a birdie at the ninth allowed Ridden to take a two-shot lead over Henson into the back nine.
Through 16 holes there was only one shot in it as Henson (pictured below) refused to give up the fight.
But thanks to a steadying birdie three at the penultimate hole, Ridden stood on the 18th tee with a score of +3 and a two-shot cushion over Henson.
The clubhouse lead was six-over par meaning it appeared to be a straight fight between the two men in the final group.
Ridden opted to take iron off the tee and then laid up short of the green. A wayward wedge approach shot then landed in a greenside bunker.
With Henson on the green in two it all came down to a putting contest. While Ridden two-putted for a six, Henson raced his birdie effort past the hole and then had a six-footer for par to force a play-off.
However, his putt slid agonisingly wide and Ridden was able to take the title.
The winner added: “It was definitely hard work today. The putter definitely wasn’t quite as warm which made it a bit more interesting, but I’m over the moon to get over the line.
“I didn’t know what was going on down the last – I knew I was two ahead of Mike and that’s all I knew.
“I thought I’d chip my way down and make a five and hope he doesn’t make three – but if he does it’s a good three on the last.
“I didn’t manage to pull it off, but it was an easy six in the end! I’m delighted to win.”
For Henson it was a cruel end to such a positive week, but he could reflect on three days when he proved he could compete at national level.
“I gave myself a chance and that’s what I wanted to do,” he admitted.
“I’m a bit annoyed at myself, but Phil played great. He made a great birdie on 17 and did what he needed to do on the last.
“I now know I can win this if I play my best golf.”
Photography credit: Leaderboard