Golf: Beal and James find due reward: Dorset pair triumph in foursomes

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The Independent Online
LAST summer Nick Faldo left his mark on the Old Course during his emphatic victory in the European Open. Large crowds, TV, corporate hospitality, massive prize money, the works. There was none of that yesterday but for a couple of lads from Dorset victory in the 52nd Sunningdale Foursomes was every bit as sweet.

Andy Beal, acting head professional at the East Dorset Club, and Lee James, a promising young amateur, defeated the Essex professional-amateur partnership of David Wood and Lloyd Warwick two and one in the final. Beal and James's reward is that their names are inscribed in gold lettering on the honours board in the clubhouse. Not even Faldo has that honour.

Sunningdale, one of the world's most renowned inland courses, will not host the European Open again for the foreseeable future. The club does not want the Old Course exposed to the wear and tear of a big tournament and even the Foursomes has been abbreviated to protect what the members regard as hallowed ground. Although there were more than 250 entries the field was restricted to 96, emasculating one of the more colourful and traditional events of the year.

None of this mattered to Beal and James who, in the final, always held the upper hand. They went three up at the seventh where Warwick, facing an awkward shot from the lip of a bunker, went out of bounds into the woods on the right.

At the turn Beal and James were still three up having gone out in 33 but Wood and Warwick enjoyed a revival from the 11th and it was down to an exemplary act of sportsmanship by the 20-year-old James. Addressing a putt, he backed off and told the referee that he had moved the ball. It was noticeable only to James. It cost him a penalty stroke and the hole, but he and Beal never gave their opponents another opportunity.

(Photograph omitted)

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