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Golf heaven for steady Simon

PUBLISHED: 10:00 06 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:11 03 July 2010

Simon Clark with his trophy.

Simon Clark with his trophy.

Simon Clark finally shrugged off his nearly man tag this week when he won the county Amateur Championship at Royal West Norfolk.

The Yarmouth and Caister man played four rounds of steady golf around the testing Royal West Norfolk course at Brancaster to get his hands on the coveted trophy at the 17th time of asking.

Simon Clark finally shrugged off his nearly man tag this week when he won the county Amateur Championship at Royal West Norfolk.

The Yarmouth and Caister man played four rounds of steady golf around the testing Royal West Norfolk course at Brancaster to get his hands on the coveted trophy at the 17th time of asking.

“I was beginning to think I would never win this so it means a tremendous amount to me,” said the former county captain, who has four second place finishes to his name. “This is the one we all want to win, and the fact that it's happened at one of my favourite courses, and in Norfolk's centenary year, makes it that extra bit special.”

Clark, 34, was a model of consistency as he recorded a three-shot victory over fellow county stalwart Chris Lamb, of Royal Norwich and rising star Stuart Ballingall, of Dunston Hall.

His impressive three-over-par total of 287 was made up of three 72s and a 71 and while one or two of his rivals shot considerably lower than that over 18 holes, they were unable to maintain those standards for the entire tournament.

Lamb set a hot pace on Saturday morning when he recorded the best round of the championship, rolling back the years by covering the testing links lay-out in just 68 shots. King's Lynn's Paul Holland went close to following suit in the afternoon, with a 69 sending him rocketing up the leaderboard, before a 75 on Sunday checked his progress.

Lamb followed up his 68 with rounds of 74 and 73 and with Clark having gone 72, 71, 72 the two experienced amateurs were level going into final round, with Holland two shots back and Ballingall, Adam Sims (Costessey Park) and Jon Baker-Odlin (Royal Norwich) a further three adrift.

In the end it was Clark's steadiness that won the day. He was a couple over par after five holes but quickly got the shots back and played solid golf from there on in to record another 72, while Lamb and Holland were both struggling to make any headway.

Only Ballingall threatened to shoot the lights out, but as it turned out he had started too far back. An ugly seven at the 415 yard par four first appeared to have firmly snuffed out the youngster's challenge but he then proceeded to play the remaining 17 holes in four under, with a string of birdies sending him back into contention.

The round could have been even better, with further birdie chances at 15 and 18, but those putts narrowly missed the target and Ballingall eventually had to settle for a round of 70 and a tie for second place with Lamb, who went round in 75.

That score was matched by playing partner Holland, who finished fourth a further two shots further back.

But this was Clark's day, and afterwards he admitted a touch of surprise at finally winning the title that has always eluded him.

“I don't play as much as I used to so it's strange I should win it now,” he said. “With a wife and young family I simply haven't got the time.

He added: “Standing on the ninth tee at Royal West Norfolk when the sun is shining is the closest thing you'll get to golfing heaven as far as I am concerned.”

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