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Just champion for Charlie

CHARLIE ROPER mixed skill and grit to clinch the Norfolk Match Play Championship at Heacham Manor.

The Mundesley golfer overcame Callum Rana 3 and 1 in a gripping see-saw final. It was a high-class contest, especially the early stages as both players let rip with birdie barrages. 

Roper established an early lead and looked likely to build on it but Rana – studying for a Maths degree at the UEA – kept coming up with the right answers. He chipped in for a two at the short fifth hole to level the match and then rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the seventh to edge ahead. At the next, the Eaton Golf Club member responded to Roper’s 18-foot birdie putt by draining one of his own from just inside that range.

It was a classic match-play moment and there was more to come at the ninth where both players narrowly missed the greens with their approaches. In contrast to Roper, Rana failed to get up and down for his par and the match was back to all square. Roper suddenly had the wind in his sails and moved ahead with a fine birdie at the 10th. From that point, the Norfolk first-team golfer never looked like giving up his hard-earned advantage. He pulled off a series of solid iron shots and eventually went two-up after a fine wedge to inside 10 feet at the 15th hole.

Rana had a chance to start another comeback at the next but he left an eight-foot birdie putt short of the cup and the match was effectively all over when he found trouble off the tee at the penultimate hole.

It was Roper’s fourth win of the weekend, having also beaten Sean Rafferty, Steven Pratt and Jack Cullington on his way to the final. Roper, 21, said: “It’s my last county event before I turn pro. It’s nice to get a win and go out with a bang. 

I’ve played with Callum lots this year. You can never really count him out of any hole when he’s missed a green. He makes an up-and-down from anywhere. It’s impressive to watch. The match stayed within one-up and one-down pretty much the whole afternoon. Then I picked up a nice couple of pars when it mattered and closed it out with a nice shot on 17.”  Rana, who made his Norfolk second-team debut this year, underlined his promise with a gutsy performance. He said: “I thought I played pretty well. I’m gutted to lose, but it was a great game.”  

Steven Tidy triumphed in the Handicap Match Play Championship that ran alongside the scratch event. The Dunston Hall golfer played the final hole superbly to seal a two-up victory over Stephen Hutt.

Norfolk Match Play Championships  (played at Heacham Manor Golf Club) Scratch competition semi-finals: Charlie Roper (Mundesley) beat Jack Cullington (Dereham) 4&2; Callum Rana (Eaton) beat Brandon Hobley (Bawburgh) 1-up. 

Final: Roper beat Rana 3&1. Handicap competition semi-finals: Steven Tidy (Dunston Hall) beat Kevin Chapman (Bawburgh) 4&2; Stephen Hutt (Wensum Valley) beat Martin Tidy 

(Dunston Hall) 5/4. Final: Tidy beat Chapman 2-up.

Writer by Tony Rushmer | Images Rushmer PR

Martin Webb is a keen amateur golfer and has been the editor of Suffolk Norfolk & Essex Golf Magazine since 2023.

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