Telegraph Golf Challenge 2012: Debut joy for top duo
ONE of the winners of the 2012 Telegraph Golf Challenge has only been playing the game for six months.
Ben Mills, of Laceby Manor, partnered Chris Blow to victory in the men's final at Forest Pines.
The pair carded 44 points, one ahead of the Holme Hall pairing of Andrew Barker and Nick Almey, to lift the Peter Moore Trophy.
It completed a remarkable adventure in this season's Telegraph Challenge for the Laceby youngsters, who really made their mark in round three when they knocked out holders Steve Dixon and Richard Storey at Forest Pines in a remarkable match that went to the sixth extra hole.
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"This was our first go in this competition – we just entered it for fun really," said Blow, a 14-handicapper.
"We did not expect to end up winning it, it's a bit of a shock really.
"But beating the defending champions in the third round gave us a lot of confidence.
"It went all the way to the sixth extra hole.
"I actually had putts to win on all the first five of those extra holes.
"By the time we reached the sixth it was getting dark and we agreed that it would have to be the last one we played.
"If there was no winner, then we would have to come back another day to finish the match.
"That last hole was a par three and I could not see where my tee-shot finished.
"But when we reached the green we found it was really close to the hole – and this time I sank the putt to win the match for us."
The Laceby pair proved just too good for the champions – and carried their form right into the finals.
"Chris just kept coming up with the birdies," said his partner Mills, who only started playing golf earlier this year.
At the start of the Telegraph Challenge he was playing off a handicap of 28 – but that has since dropped to 24.
"We have really enjoyed playing in the Telegraph Challenge and we will certainly be back to defend our title again next year," Mills said.
"We were a bit nervous at first, but everyone we played made us feel really relaxed.
"It's a great competition and I would really recommend others to join in next year."
Barker and Almey pushed the new champions all the way, before coming up just a point short. Third place went to another Laceby Manor pairing of Mark Allonby and Nigel Foster on 40 points. In fourth were Roger Davis and Nick Larkman of Forest Pines on 38.
For the first time this year, all the finalists had the chance to win a brand new car if they could achieve a hole-in-one at the long par-three 7th on the Pines section of the course.
An i30 was up for grabs, sponsored by Read Hyundai of Grimsby and Lincoln.
But no-one managed the ace that was needed to walk away with the £14,500 prize.