Yorkshire golf: Lindrick's Bailey Gill earns YUGC secretary Keith Dowswell's praise on way to first county title

Lindrick's Bailey Gill drives at the 16th on his way to beating Ilkley's Ed Cowan in the Yorkshire match play final at Selby.
Lindrick's Bailey Gill drives at the 16th on his way to beating Ilkley's Ed Cowan in the Yorkshire match play final at Selby.
Have your say

LINDRICK'S Bailey Gill has finally achieved his ambition of etching his name on a county championship trophy - and had to get the better of three golfing friends to do it.

Gill won the Yorkshire match play championship at Selby on Sunday with victory over Ilkley's Ed Cowan in a final that went to the last green.

Finalist Ed Cowan (Ilkley) had his father Neil on the bag for him at Selby.

Finalist Ed Cowan (Ilkley) had his father Neil on the bag for him at Selby.

But to reach the last stage he had been required to defeat pals in Wheatley's Kealan Lowe, Wath's Nick Poppleton and Shipley's Callum Hey.

Poppleton is a regular room-mate of Gill's at golf events while Hey roomed with the new Yorkshire champion when the Lindrick man won the Welsh Open Youths championship in May.

Lowe, meanwhile, was his foursomes partner at the start of the month when Yorkshire won the Northern Counties League title by beating Lancashire - and on Wednesday the pair will drive to the Midlands together to represent the White Rose in the English men's county championship at Sandwell Park.

Happily they will both have weekend triumphs to discuss as Gill did Lowe an inadvertent favour by knocking him out at Selby in the quarter-finals.

"Kealan has just won the Yorkshire Order of Merit," explained Gill. "I knocked him out on Saturday and he said, 'I'll be able to play at Moortown now'."

A high-place finish there in the Moortown Masters meant Lowe won the 2016 overall Yorkshire Order of Merit title.

At the same time, Gill was beating Cowan thanks to overcoming the disabling effects of an uncertain long game with devastating use of his putter.

"My long game was pretty good for the first two matches and I didn't putt particularly well, but then gradually it switched round," said Gill.

"I hit it really poorly in the final, but holed loads of putts. The guy I beat conceded a three-foot putt on the last as I had two putts to win. If I'd holed that putt I would have had eight birdies in the final.

"I think I hit 12 greens, but I holed some really long birdie putts. One was at least 60ft and two others were at least 30ft - it was just weird really, that doesn't usually happen.

"I don't really expect to be holing those sort of putts. The best part of my game probably is my putting, but it's my holing out. I don't miss many putts from eight foot in, which is what you need to do."

Gill said it was awkward playing one-on-one against friends, commenting: "It's difficult because you almost feel like you're not in the zone when you're being too friendly with them, but it's finding a balance - being normal and being focused."

Clearly he achieved just that.

Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs' secretary Keith Dowswell took Gill and Lowe aside after their match to congratulate them on playing golf "how golf should be played - both friendly and competitive".

And his vanquished friends sent him texts wishing him good luck for the rest of the event while Poppleton, defeated in the semi-finals, went one step further and caddied for Gill in the final.

After English county championship duty with Darryl Berry's Yorkshire side, Gill will compete in the North of England Open Amateur championship at Alwoodley next week.

On Monday he walked the Leeds course by way of preparation, admitting that after five matches in three days at Selby he was a little too weary to play,

The North of England championship could be his last main event of the year, if he manages to lower his handicap from its present level of plus 2.5 to plus 3.

"If I get to plus 3, Alwoodley will be my last event, but if not I'll play at Hollinwell in a scratch open [the Hollinwell Trophy] in October," said the left-hander.

"Off plus three you have a bit more comfort in entry for big events.

"My world ranking's improved massively this year - I started the year at 5,550 and I'm 853rd now - so being plus 3 would just be a bit of back-up."

For full Yorkshire match play final report click here

For links to all Chris Stratford's golf reports click here