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Towndrow tops quality field at Lancaster

SEAN Towndrow is the new Lancashire county golf champion – seven years after last lifting the prestigious trophy.

The Southport and Ainsdale golfer produced a stirring fightback on the final day’s 36 holes to come from seven shots behind to claim success by three shots.

The England international signed off in style with a four under par 67 at Lancaster Golf Club to secure a two under par total of 282 which ensured his name is engraved on the trophy for the second time, after winning at Hesketh in 2010.

But his latest victory was all the more emotional, as it is just 18 months since the 26-year-old was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer.

And he praised family, friends and the golfing community for all their support throughout his battle against the illness, which still requires regular monitoring to ensure there is no new occurrence.

“There have been some dark days, obviously, but I just cannot believe the support I have had through messages, cards, emails, on social media,” he said.

“There was always a new message or encouragement when things were tough and I cannot thank everyone enough for helping me deal with it all as positively as possible.

“That includes the officers of the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, and England Golf and team manager Kevin Tucker, but I would like to make special mention of my coach and mentor at Southport and Ainsdale, Jim Payne. He became someone I spoke to about more than golf and he was always there for me.”

Towndrow looked to be out of the running after a second round 76 left him adrift of the front runners. The host club’s Daniel Sefton had set the pace on day one with a superb 65, while the 36-hole lead was held by Mark Hyde from Southport and Ainsdale after he returned 67-70. Going into the final 18 holes it was advantage to Lancaster’s Jack Clarkson.

But Towndrow, who had dad Phil on the bag and mum Jean among his on-course supporters, conjured up five birdies, making his only bogey of the round at the 18th, to set a clubhouse mark that no-one could match.

Rossendale’s Sean Doherty came through to take the runners-up spot after a final round 68.

“Coming into the final day seven back, I just wanted to play well enough to give myself a chance of catching up,” said Towndrow. “I had to dig deep in the morning, but got it round, and when I saw the other scores I thought I might have a bit of a chance.

“In the final round I holed one big putt, of 50 feet for a birdie on the eighth, but I played pretty solidly and took my chances to score where I could. Then it was just a case of waiting to see what happened.

“I think my experience may have helped in putting together a round to put pressure on other people, but I have been striking the ball pretty well.”

Towndrow’s success came after one of the strongest fields in the history of the Lancashire County Championships had assembled in the magnificent surrounds of Lancaster Golf Club with an entry field of 135, with 63 of those having a handicap of scratch or better.

The title triumph caps a good run of form for Towndrow, who recently won the Formby Hare after finishing fourth in the S&A Bowl the previous day. His overall performance earned him the Lancashire Links Trophy.

He will now turn his attentions to events like the St Andrews Links Trophy and the European Amateur, although frustratingly he has missed out on a place in the British Amateur, having reached the quarter-finals in 2015.

Lancaster Golf Club will represent Lancashire in the national finals of the champion club competition after their trio of Jack Clarkson, Daniel Sefton and Joseph Spencer produced the best 36-hole aggregate of 421.