Super Palmer signs off from BGA in style

First published in Sport

ANDY Palmer breezed to his second Bolton Golf Association championship title with an easy 5&4 victory over Matthew Buckley.

The 22-year-old signed off his career in the BGA before turning professional later this year in the best possible style with an emphatic win over his Old Links opponent, who never hit his best form in the final at Breightmet.

Buckley could not repeat his feats of the earlier rounds as he failed to score a birdie, while Palmer, who also lifted the title in 2008, stayed solid with just two birdies good enough to take him to the title.

“The putts didn’t drop for him,” admitted Palmer. “I won nine, 10 and 11 and that was the turning point. I thought it was going to be a lot tighter.

“It is not good seeing a good lad missing putts like that, but it is nice being champion again, especially as I am turning pro at the end of the year.

“It is a great way to finish. I want to win the club championship now.”

Buckley said: “It is one of those things. He has played very solid golf but the putter didn’t work. I have not missed a four or five putter all week until today. It wasn’t nerves as I have enjoyed playing but nothing dropped for me.

“It was tough conditions with the wind blowing. Hopefully I can come back and work harder and win it next year.”

Chorley’s Palmer won the first two holes and was three up after six. Three successive holes almost ensured the title would be his and, although he dropped a shot at the 13th, Buckley’s wayward putting cost him again at the the 14th and the game was up.

Buckley had caused an upset in the semi-finals when he beat former champion Gareth Hastie by one hole in an exciting encounter.

Buckley’s three birdies helped the 32-year-old race into a four-hole lead after five holes and, although the Dunscar man fought back to be only one hole down, his opponent hung on for a narrow win.

Palmer had to battle his way back after he found himself three down after six holes against Harwood’s Karl Bowker, who recorded an eagle two at the par-four fifth.

Palmer gradually whittled away at the lead until he levelled at the 13th. Bowker found the bunker at the 17th, which cost him the hole and he went down by two holes after he lost the last to a birdie.

In the quarter-finals Hastie produced a faultless display to crush 2010 champion and leading qualifier Liam Ball by 6&4. He raced to four up after five holes with three birdies and a concession and, from that point, there was no way back for the Old Links player.

Buckley had accounted for Dunscar veteran Adam Whalley by one hole. In a tight match, Whalley had the edge at one up on the 15th but a poor chip let him down. He went out of bounds at the 17th and that cost him the match.

Bowker had a comfortable 3&2 victory over Dunscar’s Andy Taylor. He led by three shots at the turn and never looked in danger. It was tense affair between the two Chorley boys before Palmer turned the screws with three successive birdies from the 13th hole to run out a 3&2 winner over his club-mate Tom Stuart.

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