PLAYED over the course that gives its name to the trophy, event 12 in the ZFL North East Masters was the highly popular Bishop Auckland Bowl.
Just for a change, Morpeth’s Mark Penny didn’t win – but he scored more points than his rivals to extend his lead at the top of the rankings.
But the real story on the day was Richard Aisbitt from Brancepeth. Handily placed after a first round level par 72 – just one shot behind Durham City’s Graeme Marchbank – Aisbitt fired a new course record 64 to take the title by nine shots from Marchbank and Silloth’s John Longcake.
Aisbitt already held the record with a 63 but, since then, the course has been lengthened. His win moves him up to eighth place in the table, while Longcake improves one place to ninth and Marchbank moves up five places to ease into 10th.
Former double Northumberland Champion Mark Penny shot two solid rounds of 75 and 74 to finish in a tie for seventh. But he would have been looking over his shoulder at another Brancepeth player, Michael Curry, lying third in the ZFL Masters, just behind defending champion Simon Lee from the City of Newcastle. But Curry was not able to capitalise on his first round 72, following it with a nightmare 81 to finish in a tie for 19th.
Lee didn’t finish in the points and nor did City teammate Phil Ridden, who withdrew with a wrist injury and missed his chance of overtaking Curry in the Masters League table. Mathematically, it’s now a four-horse race for the ZFL title between Penny, Lee, Curry and Ridden. If Penny can finish inside the top 10 in either of the last two tournaments – Brancepeth and Woodham – then he will be the 2010 ZFL North East Masters Champion.
This year, the ZFL North East Masters presentation will take place at the winner’s home club. The battle for the top five prizes in the series is now between the current top 10 players in the table.
As always, Bishop Auckland organised the event very professionally and attracted 75 entrants – the highest in any of the ZFL qualifiers so far – and only had three “no shows” although that’s three too many. Even so, some tournaments have suffered from many more players than that failing to turn up. The course was in excellent condition but showed its teeth in the strong breeze with scratch scores of 73 and 72.
After Bishop Auckland, 135 players have scored points in the ZFL Masters series and are pretty evenly spread between players from Northumberland, Durham and further afield.
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