Clark sets Sheringham course record on his way to title

Winner of the of the Norfolk County Amateur Championship at Sheringham Golf Club Simon Clark on the

Winner of the of the Norfolk County Amateur Championship at Sheringham Golf Club Simon Clark on the 18th green with his trophy.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A new course record was a welcome bonus as Simon Clark won the Norfolk Amateur title for the third time at Sheringham Golf Club.

Clark, 41, made the sort of start to a tournament that dreams are made of on Saturday, opening with a brilliant five under par 65 that left him six shots clear of his nearest rival.

It was the lowest round ever compiled off Sheringham’s black tees, which stretch the course to 6,558 yards, and afforded the former county captain the luxury of 18 holes he would prefer to forget yesterday afternoon.

Clark backed up his round to remember with a solid 72 to take a four-shot lead over Costessey Park’s Matthew Bacon into the second day and retained that advantage yesterday morning thanks to a hard-fought 74.

Scores soared after lunch as the wind got up and Clark suffered more than most as he posted a 10-over-par 80 – but with his rivals also struggling it was enough to secure a two-shot win from a trio of challengers, led by Sprowston Manor’s James Hill.

The Great Yarmouth and Caister player was celebrating for the third time in eight years, having also won the county’s blue riband event at Royal West Norfolk in 2008 and his home course in 2009, and is living proof that good things come to those who wait,

“I think I entered this for the first time in 1990 so it was a long time coming,” he said.

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“I never won it when I was a youngster, but I was runner-up five times and finally got there.

“I am very proud to have won it three times, because not many people have done that.”

Clark won’t forget the way he started and finished the tournament – although for very different reasons, of course.

“I can’t remember playing any better than I did on Saturday morning,” said the new champion, who went to the turn in 33 and then came back in 32 after seven birdies and just two dropped shots.

“I was striking the ball well, the putts were going in and I just kept going lower and lower.

“Usually when I get to two or three under these days it starts going the other way again, but not this time.

“As for the final round – well, the wind turned and made it really difficult and it was just a case of survival really.”

Nearest challenger Bacon had to settle for an opening 71, but he closed the gap with a 70 in the afternoon and then matched Clark’s 74 yesterday morning to set up an exciting head-to-head challenge.

Starting three in arrears, the Costessey Park man gradually chipped away at the lead in the increasingly testing conditions and got his nose in front at one stage. But as the carnage continued Clarke regained the lead and he produced a cool finish at the 18th, getting up and down for a bogey five from over 20 feet to secure the silverware. Hill finished second on countback after rounds of 75, 71, 71, and 76 while Swaffham’s Nic Cains (71, 74, 71, 77) was third in his final event as an amateur ahead of Bacon (71, 70, 74, 78).