Hat-trick haul as jubilant Jane is celebrating a triple triumph

Josh Yarham and Jane Saggers
Josh Yarham and Jane Saggers
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Jane Saggers has had a week to remember at Burghley Park, winning three competitions and seeing her handicap cut by three shots.

She started off by winning the Ladies’ Midweek Stableford with 42 points, which saw her cut from 26 to 23.

This was followed by winning the final of the Mixed knockout competition for the Swindin Cup with her partner Josh Yarham on Saturday and then Jane triumphed in the Francis Friend Medal on Sunday.

“It was just one of those weeks when everything came together.” she said. “And I’m going to savour the experience because you never know how long it will be before you manage to play that well again.”

In the final of the Swindin Cup, a Mixed Foursomes knockout competition first contested in 1950, Jane and Josh found themselves up against club captain Bill O’Driscoll and ladies’ captain Anne Fensom and had to give them two shots.

O’Driscoll was still on a high from winning the men’s knockout cup the week before, and was keen to do the elusive double in the knockout events, while partner Anne was also hopeful of marking her captain’s year with a major trophy.

Things didn’t look too good for Saggers and Yarham at the start, as Yarham pulled his tee shot on the first out of bounds, meaning that Jane had to play the pair’s next shot (under penalty) from the men’s championship tee.

But amazingly, the pair managed to scrape a half from the hole, and their confidence levels shot up.

They gelled well and both played consistent golf, gradually building a lead and slowly stretching it to stand three up on the 16th tee.

Both the men found themselves facing testing shots into the par three green, with O’Driscoll’s excellent chip over the ridge in the middle of the green coming to rest only about five feet from the hole.

Yarham was in the right side bunker but hit an impressive shot which finished six feet away. Both putts just slid narrowly past the hole so that it was halved and the match was over with Saggers and Yarham winning 3&2.

“All credit to Jane and Josh,” said Bill. “They played a tight game and deserved their victory, and the match was played in a great spirit.”

Yarham, whose father Ian won the same trophy in 1986 and 2006, was delighted to have got his name on the winners board at last.

He commented: “Anne and Bill were really tough opponents and we had to keep focusing hard all the way. It’s an honour to follow Dad in winning this event, and many thanks to Jane for being such a great partner.”

The penultimate event in the men’s season-long Order of Merit series for the BMW trophy sponsored by Sycamores of Peterborough took place at Burghley on Sunday.

The Francis Friend Medal attracted 78 players, six of whom produced a net sub-par round.

Winner on the day was Adrian Crowson (18), who was three under his handicap after the first nine holes and managed to hang on for the back nine to come in with a net 67 and take the trophy by a single shot from Colt Barratt (8). He was cut to 17.

Barratt did at least have the consolation of taking the Division One prize, which he thoroughly deserved having carded nothing worse than a bogey as he reached the turn level with his handicap and improved on that by two shots on the way home. He saw his handicap come down to seven.

Thomas Breheny (7) was second on 69, having birdied 11 and 17, beating Jason Clarke (7) into third place on countback.

In Division Two, Brian Barber (15) took the honours with a net 72, ahead of Doug Hunter (14) on the same score, and Nigel Moore (16) on 73.

Crowson was the clear winner in Division Three with his 67, but Rob Tapp (17) also impressed with his net 69 which saw him cut to 16.

Tim Chapman (18), putting aside his disappointment from his narrow defeat in the final of the 1895 Knockout last week, recorded a net 72 to take third place in the division.

Sanjay Nithiyilingam (2) once again produced the best gross score with his 74.

The outcome of the Francis Friend Medal on the BMW Order of Merit was significant.

Long-time leader Matthew Pettit went into the event two points clear of Richard Moore but, despite carding a net 72, found this was only good enough for 16th place on the day and a single Order of Merit point.

Moore also returned a net 72, but his one over par gross back nine put him eight places higher on the day and the extra points he earned for this jumped him above Pettit to top the rankings with one round to go.

Thomas Breheny’s third place finish in the Francis Friend Medal saw him leap into third place in the Order of Merit, pushing the unfortunate Jim Clarke down into fourth place on countback.

The Ladies also contested the Francis Friend Medal at Burghley on Sunday.

Saggers completed her unbeaten week by taking victory with her net 76, just one shot ahead of Michelle Powell (17) on 77.

Michelle did, however, have the satisfaction of winning Division One, with Carol Johnson (18) second on 78, ahead of Sue Churchill (16) on the same score.

Saggers won Division Two, well clear of Pippa Le Sage (27) in second place on 83, pushing Stephanie Crook (25) into third spot on countback.

With just one round in the Order of Merit to go, the top two at the start of the day (Sue Churchill and Anne Fensom) finished fourth and eighth respectively to extend their lead over third-placed Stephanie Crook who was 12th .

Sue now heads the table with 78 points, ahead of Anne on 74 and Stephanie on 68, and Sunday’s final event is going to be decisive.

Last Wednesday’s Midweek Stableford for ladies at Burghley saw Jane Saggers (26) come in with an unbeatable 42 points, carding 22 points on the front nine (including a blob on hole seven) and another 20 on the way home. She was cut to 23 for her performance.

Pippa Le Sage (27) took second place with 37 points, with Jackie Wurr (36) third on 36.