JAMES Firth has become the first player to retain both of the Bradford Union’s major strokeplay titles.
The Rawdon member successfully defended his 36-hole Amateur Championship crown at Bradford Golf Club, producing rounds of 68 and 72 to pip runner-up Will Whiteoak by one shot.
His triumph came 12 months after the scratch handicapper won the event at Shipley.
Having also lifted consecutive Bradford Open titles in 2010 and 2011, Firth’s achievement is unprecedented since the amateur strokeplay event was introduced in 1978.
He said: “It’s nice to win once but retaining a title is more difficult so I’m really pleased.
“There were some good players in the field such as Will, so it was good to test myself in the afternoon.
“It could have been easy to blow up but I managed to hold things together.”
As one of the first starters, 2012 champion Whiteoak posted the clubhouse lead of one under par (70, 71).
It meant Firth knew what his target was having shot the lowest round of the day in the morning.
His three-under par 68 featured six birdies – coming at holes one, four, eight, 11, 14 and 17 – and was one of three sub-70 scores on the day.
The Manor’s Mark Weighman, who came third on level par, and Bingley St Ives’ Oliver Young carded the others, both shooting 69.
Firth was cruising to victory until a triple bogey seven at the 15th left him under pressure.
The former Baildon member found a bad lie where trees had been removed and also ended up in the bunker.
But he composed himself to bag a birdie at the par-five 17th to finish two under and win by a shot.
The 35-year-old said: “Already knowing Will’s score helped. I knew I had to come in one under from the 16th and there were still birdie chances to come.”
Having also won the Bradford Open at Hawksworth in 2010, the venue is certainly to Firth’s liking.
He said: “Good golf gets rewarded there. It’s not about luck and there are no silly holes. If you play well, you get good scores.”
Bradford Amateur 36-hole Championship result: 1 James Firth (Rawdon, 68, 72) 140; 2 Will Whiteoak (Shipley, 70,71) 141; 3 Mark Weighman (Manor, 69, 73) 142; 4 Danny Rowley (Shipley, 73, 70) 143; 5 Jack Hall (South Bradford, 72, 71) 143; 6 Andy Ingham (Shipley, 73, 71) 144; 7 Jamie Mountain (Shipley, 71, 73) 144; 8 Darryl Berry (Bingley St Ives, 74, 71) 145; 9 Warren Kemp (Bingley St Ives, 72, 74) 146; 10 Nigel Colbeck (Cleckheaton, 74, 73) 147; 11 Tom Hall (South Bradford, 72, 75) 147.