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Wilkinson halts Leech run in county championship
7:00am Tuesday 29th May 2012 in Golf
A NEW putter helped Ferndown underdog Sonny Wilkinson upset the form book in the county championship final at Parkstone.
Proud father and caddy Graham Wilkinson revealed the key to his son’s success following the 4&3 win over reigning champion Tom Leech on Sunday.
“Sonny was recommended the new Ping face-balanced putter during his recent match against Hampshire’s England boys international Jack Singh-Brar,” said Graham.
“It’s the best £200 he has ever spent.”
The new piece of equipment arrived in time for Sonny to use in this year’s championship and played a big part in his success over three days.
“I’ve had my ups and downs recently, especially with my putting so it definitely helped,” admitted the newly-crowned 19-year-old champion, who was using the putter for the first time.
“I wasn’t expected to win, so I felt I had nothing to lose and I didn’t feel any pressure.”
Sonny, who finished the 36-hole strokeplay qualifier in second place, went from strength to strength as he claimed his place in the final with a 5&3 win over Parkstone’s Iain Fullerton.
Leech, meanwhile, had fought his way back from two down to beat strokeplay winner Harry Mitchell 4&3 in his semi-final.
In the final with 31-year-old Leech, Sonny was five under par when he closed out the match by sinking a 25-footer on the 15th to lift the Graham Butler Trophy.
His victory, however, ended Leech’s bid to match nine-times champion Tony Lawrence’s record of three successive titles.
Sonny stamped his authority on the final with four birdies in the first six holes to establish a three-hole advantage he never lost.
Despite his accuracy from tee to green, Sonny found it hard to shake off his more erratic opponent. The defining moment, however, came at the ninth when he sank a 15-footer for a half with Leech just two feet from the pin.
“Finals can be scrappy at the best of times, but that suits me,” said Leech. “In the morning, Harry birdied the first four holes and I had to hang on and wait for my opportunities to apply the pressure. Against Sonny, those chances just didn’t come my way.
“I normally rely on pressure situations,” added Leech. “On the 14th I holed a 20-footer and left Sonny with a five-footer which many players would have missed. But he didn’t miss a shot all day and deserved to win.”
Sonny’s grip on the match was highlighted when Leech greeted his only success, at the 12th hole, with arms aloft and an ironic chant of “I’ve won a hole!”
In summing up his son’s achievements, dad Graham said: “Sonny just had to step up to the level and he did. I’m so pleased for him, he works so hard at his game and deserves this success.”