Neale swaps tennis for golf and does himself Proud to lift trophy

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As Leighton Buzzard golfers determine the pecking order for oven-ready turkeys in a series of pre-Christmas competitions at the Plantation Road course, a fellow club swinger got into the festive spirit by winning a major trophy and had a second plucked from his grasp by just half a point.

Neale Proud, a 52-year-old professional tennis coach, is the new holder of Leighton’s Groves trophy after the luck of Irishman Ian Alexander ran out with just one hole to play.

For 8-handicap golfer Neale was in arrears for most of the cup-final round before a spirited fight back saw him go two holes up on the 17th to win his first major trophy.

And he almost completed the double in the final of the Daily Mail foursomes as he and playing partner Jason Cobb finished with a nett 68.5, despite taking a nine to complete one hole. But it proved costly as the experienced Julian Heffron and Len Neal finished with a nett 68 to take top spot.

A former club junior, Neale rekindled his love of golf three years ago, playing regularly with dad Danny, Cedars student son Ben and other family members.

Birdies and eagles are everyday talk for golfers, but its turkeys that will be the table topic for pre-Christmas competition winners at Leighton.

Sandra Bellis carved out a win in the Ladies turkey stableford, beating Lesley Brazier on countback after both finished with 32 points.

Eddie and Joyce Young will be basting theirs after winning the Mixed Turkey foursomes with a nett score of 70.5, beating Phil Eddy and Kate Wright, whose nett 73 consigned John and Christine Bateman to third place.

Seasoned campaigner Derek Ellam clocked up 42 points to win the Mens Midweek turkey stableford, with David Banwell and Denis Leitch heading a chasing pack with 39 points, one clear of Terry Lingham, Phil Eddy, Phil Coumbe, Steven Paine, David Debell and Phil Martin.

- Former sports car racing driver Banwell went one better in the weekend turkey medal, winning the Saturday event with a nett 67, a shot clear of Steve Foster, David Jones and Len Clark, with Dave Roberts and Barry Kent a further shot in arrears.

Dennis Elliott carded the lowest gross score in the Sunday turkey medal to win with a nett 66, two shots clear of club vice-captain Adrian Stephenson with Paul Johnson taking third place with a nett 69.

Postman Manny Barker has had a weekend to remember, after being named Player of the Year at the Captain’s Supper on Friday and winning the Vice Captain vs Captain match on Sunday.

Leighton’s inter-club team beat a Mentmore squad 3-0, with victories by Steve Schmidt and Dave Evans, Lance Lawes and Manny Barker and Shane Bentley and Ada Stephenson. Skipper Steve Leng and John Latimer, Andy Jenkins and Shane Kimber and Derek Richards and John Allinson halved their games.