Cheshire: Men’s Strokeplay Championship

James Ashfield is presented with the trophy by Cheshire Union President David Durling (Shrigley Hall)

A day of records for Welsh ace James

CHESHIRE: Tuesday, July 13th

Records were shattered likes plates at a Greek wedding at Delamere Forest on Saturday where Wales international James Ashfield won the Cheshire Strokeplay Championship by 12 shots.

The 20-year-old was 25 under par in winning the 72-hole strokeplay competition at Delamere Forest for the first time and shot a career-best 63 (-9) in the third round. It is believed to be the lowest total ever recorded in the event.

James, who reached the semi-finals of the British Amateur last month, also registered six birdies in a row for the first time during an extraordinary burst of scoring as he built up a nine-shot lead after 54 holes. He had nine birdies in 12 holes and came home in just 29 shots. When he got a five at the first in the final round that ended a run of 38 holes without a bogey.

His heroics were a fitting tribute to Delamere Forest, which hosted the first Cheshire Championship 100 years ago, and especially because one of its own carried off the trophy.

“It was probably the best golf of my career,” said the former Scottish Boys Open champion, who will make his European Tour debut later this month in the Welsh Open at Celtic Manor thanks to an invitation from Wales Golf.

“Obviously it helped being on my home track – knowing the greens and where the problems were – but shooting those numbers gives me tremendous confidence going forward. I now know I can go low-low and not just be happy with the likes of four under.”

James, who will also play in a Challenge Tour event in September thanks to reaching the last four of the British Am, opened with a 67 on the Thursday to leave himself one back of Styal’s Ryan Owen and Matthew Dodd-Berry (Royal Liverpool).

The following day the home favourite ramped things up a notch with a bogey-free 65, a score matched by Stockport’s Luke Yardley. That left him three ahead of Owen, who shot a second-round 69.

James then maintained the pattern of cutting two shots off from the previous day with his stellar effort on Saturday morning and his course knowhow certainly helped with staying patient.

“I knew if I could get through the first six holes level par that would set me up with an opportunity to go low,” added James. “On holes three and four I had two really good up and downs for par and that gave me a lot of confidence.”

Before last weekend he had never managed more than three birdies in a row but once the tap was turned on at the par five seventh, he was in no mood to turn it off. 

James also birdied nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17 and 18 to leave himself on 21 under par. Stockport’s Samuel Prince moved into second with a bogey-free 65.

In the afternoon it did calm down slightly but the champion in waiting still managed to register seven more birdies to take his total for the three days to 29 (there was also an eagle in his first round). Rhys Nevin (Sandiway) joined Prince in second (-13) with the experienced Mere player Jon Beesley claiming fourth, one shot further back. That total also gave him the O-35s prize.

The first two rounds also acted as the qualifier for the England Champion Club final at Knole Park (Kent) in September and the Sandiway trio of Nevin, Gobin and Tom Duncalf finished seven clear of Stockport – the best two scores out of three counted each day.

Leading scores (par 72)
1) James Ashfield (Delamere Forest) 67, 65, 63, 68, 263 (-25)
2) Rhys Nevin (Sandiway) 71, 69, 66, 69, 275 (-13)
3) Samuel Prince (Stockport) 71, 68, 65, 71, 275 (-13)
4) Jon Beesley (The Mere) 69, 67, 71, 69, 276 (-12)
5) Liam Gobin (Sandiway) 69, 71, 65, 72, 277 (-11)
6= Tom Duncalf (Sandiway) 70, 73, 70, 66, 279 (-9)
6= Ryan Owen (Styal) 66, 69, 73, 71, 279 (-9)
8) Dominic Barnes (Caldy) 70, 70, 71, 69, 280 (-8)
9= Steven Capper (Royal Liverpool) 71, 72, 71, 67 (-7)
9= Josh Sims (Caldy) 71, 68, 72, 70, 281 (-7)
9= Matthew Dodd-Berry (Royal Liverpool) 66, 71, 71, 73, 281 (-7)
For all the scores click here