Last hole birdie putt takes John O’Gaunt pair to Lombard final

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Amateur Neil Oram paid tribute to ‘nerveless’ Lee Scarbrow as John O’Gaunt GC came out on top in a four-way tie to reach the Lombard Trophy Final.

Oram and experienced PGA professional Scarbrow held their nerve to claim a birdie at the 18th hole and that was enough to give them victory on countback at Thetford Golf Club.

They carded a seven under par round of 65 along with Scott Rusbridge and Tom Smith (Colne Valley), Kerr Page and Peter Vintner (Gedney Hill) and David Clifford and Neil Redding (Wellingborough).

But the John O’Gaunt pairing won on countback after coming in with a stronger back nine. Even then, the competition was so close that it was the final six holes that decided the winners.

They now head to Portugal for the £41,000 National Pro-Am grand final at the Vila Sol resort on September 21 and 22.

Scarbrow is recognised as one of the leading coaches in the country whose most famous pupil was Ian Poulter.

Biggleswade-based 12-handicapper Oram admitted he could not have been in better hands after a nailbiting finale which needed some mathematics to decide the winners.

“Lee has no nerves so it seems, he’s the same with every shot, he’s the consummate professional, It was Lee’s back nine that really did the business, he was absolutely superb. I was struggling by then,” said 53-year-old Oram, who sank the putt at the 18th to put John O’Gaunt in contention.

“I didn’t have to take any risks but Lee said beforehand that the back nine would be tricky. He got us over the line though. He was in a mode I hadn’t seen before, he was was concentrated.”

Oram works as a industrial printer service engineer but will now be looking to get time off for the Portugal final.

Scarbrow is also having to alter his holiday plans as a result of the Thetford win, but he admits he was quietly confident that the pair had done enough to qualify by the end.

“We were three under par for the last six holes, so if it was going to go to countback then I fancied our chances,” he said.

“I couldn’t see anyone beating that.

“At the last green, I could see there was a seven under par in so I said to my partner that if he could make his putt we’d take the lead on count back – but probably wouldn’t stay there, But he holed it – and we did!”