New champion McLure has eyes set on England spot

Champions of Champions Senior 2013

Tony McLure, a familiar name within golf in his native north east, beat the rain and a clutch of internationals to win the Senior County Champions Tournament in style at Woodhall Spa.

The 55 year old former greenkeeper, playing out of Longhirst Hall in Northumberland, fired a superb second round 70 for 145, three over par, and a one shot winning margin from English Senior champion Richard Latham.

Despite the miserable conditions, cold with frequent rain and squally winds, McLure (image copyright John Thomson Photography) had 15 pars and two birdies on his card and was the only player in the field to beat par.

“This is very pleasing,” he said modestly after collecting the trophy. “I knew when I arrived here that if I could play well I’d be in the hunt. These conditions don’t bother me. You just have to get on with it.”

Starting the day three strokes off the pace, he was out in 34 with a birdie at nine but he bogeyed ten when he under-clubbed and found a bunker.

But his second birdie came at the long 14th where he fired a three-wood 230 yards to the green and two-putted to pick up another shot. “That was the best three wood I’ve hit for a long time,” he added,

From there he parred his way in for a homeward 36, holing some key putts when needed while he also knew what the opposition were doing.

“I knew Richard had made a big number somewhere so I just tried to play the remaining holes in level par,” he said. “At the last I made a solid four after hitting a wedge from 56 yards to a foot. But I only missed one green and didn’t miss a putt.”

Latham, looking to add the County Champions title to his English, Scottish and Lincolnshire senior crowns, took double bogey at the third he found sand. But after going out in 37 his real Achilles Heel came at the 13th where he hooked his tee shot into sand and could only splash out.

He found a sloping lie and sliced his third shot into trees, his ball finishing against a trunk. After taking a drop, he took three more for a triple bogey seven before signing for 74.

“It is very disappointing but that was a stupid lack of concentration,” he said. “If you have a lapse on this course you get punished and I know that more than anyone.

“But this has been a great year for me, I still have the Seniors Home Internationals to come and you can’t win everything.”

McLure’s future could mirror Latham’s. He is also a first-year senior and despite a poor showing in the English Seniors has already made his mark with second place in the Welsh Seniors, equal third in the Scottish while he won the Northern Counties Seniors title.

“This win should move me up the seniors Order of Merit but my target is to represent my country,” he added. “Being a senior is the start of a new career for me and I’d love an England cap.”