The one to watch

Tom Lewis, from Britain, reacts to applause after finishing his final round of the Portugal Masters Golf tournament Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 at Victoria golf course in Vilamoura, southern Portugal. (AP Photo/ Francisco Seco)
Tom Lewis, from Britain, reacts to applause after finishing his final round of the Portugal Masters Golf tournament Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 at Victoria golf course in Vilamoura, southern Portugal. (AP Photo/ Francisco Seco)
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IT was a busy year on the Fylde golfing scene in 2011 – but with the Open Championship coming back to Royal Lytham and St Annes after an 11-year gap, 2012 won’t just be busy, it will be frantic!

As well as the Open, the Junior Open, featuring the best youngsters from all corners from the golfing world, will take place at Fairhaven from July 16 to 18,

Looking back, the headline-maker at the 2011 Lytham Trophy was not necessarily the winner.

Due credit should, of course, go to the golfer who won at Royal Lytham and St Annes in the spring – Jack Senior, of Heysham Golf Club – but no-one who witnessed the event could envisage the impact was to be made soon after by one of the players who finished joint-second, Tom Lewis, of Welwyn Garden City.

Lewis shared the lead at the end of the first round of the Open at Sandwich as an amateur.

He won the Silver Medal as leading amateur at Sandwich, and then won on only his third professional start in the Portuguese Masters.

By the season’s end, he had been named the European Tour’s rookie of the year, winning the prized Sir Henry Cotton Trophy.

Lewis will certainly have big galleries following him at the Open, compared to the handful of diehards in the wind and wet of last year’s Lytham Trophy.

Prior to turning professional and making such a spectacular impact, Lewis had been part of the Great Britain and Ireland team that wrested the Walker Cup from the Americans at Royal Aberdeen.

A timely reminder to this year’s Open Championship competitors was the final, four-round score that won the Lytham Trophy, namely 19 over par – this underlined how challenging the course can be when weather conditions are unfavourable.

A former footballer and rugby league player – Ryan O’Neill – won the De Vere PGA North Region Championship, held at the Herons Reach course in Blackpool.

O’Neill, who was once on Wigan Athletic’s books, works as an assistant at the Penwortham club.

It was in this event that Laura Harvey created a small, but significant piece of golfing history.

The assistant from Darlington was the first woman to compete in a regional order of merit competition.

The wind proved no barrier to success for John Wells, from the Cherry Burton club in Yorkshire, who prevailed in the James Brearley Lancashire Open held at Blackpool North Shore.

He posted an impressive two-round score of 11-under par with rounds of 64 and 67.

David Corsby marked his return to his home club Fleetwood by finishing third in the Assistants Order Of Merit for the North West behind the winner Michael Ramsden, of Bondhay.

The Fylde Amateur League went right down to the wire, and the outcome was not determined until the final evening when a revived Royal Lytham and St Annes team lifted the title.

Royal Lytham doubled up by taking the Fylde Handicap League title.

The Fylde Amateur Championship was won by Alex Croston, of Fleetwood, playing on his home course.

Nick Marsh, of Knott End, lifted the Gazette Trophy awarded to the winner of the Fylde Junior Championship, held this year at Lytham Green Drive.

The four semi-finalists were off to Portugal for the finals of the Gazette/Blacktax Matchplay Championship, outright victory in the event going to Alex Nurse, of Fleetwood.

John Carroll (Huyton and Prescott) won the Lancashire amateur title held at Manchester.

Emily Taylor (Royal Lytham) continued to make excellent progress with some notable performances, including being part of the England team that won silver at the European girls’ team championship at Is Molas, Sardinia.