Reis Suart becomes first county champion from Welwyn Garden City in over three decades
- Credit: HERTS GOLF
Reis Suart of Welwyn Garden City Golf Club is the pride of Hertfordshire after winning the 2021 County Championship.
Both the men's and ladies' championship, won by Harpenden's Emmanuelle Hewson of Mid-Herts Golf Club in Wheathampstead, were played at the same time at Knebworth over 36 holes of strokeplay followed by four rounds of matchplay.
Suart showed his intent as one of only three men to return an under-par score after the opening two rounds, carding 141 for one-under.
That left him third and three shots behind 16-year-old leader Zach Little of West Herts, with Knebworth's George Williams, the 2014 champion, in second.
Little surprisingly lost in the first knockout round but Suart played his way through to the semi-final, beating Greg Hurley 2&1 and then Matthew Lockwood 6&4.
His opponent in the last four was Knebworth's Williams and it proved one of the most nip and tuck contests of the weekend, eventually being decided on the second extra hole.
Williams' putting had kept him in the contest throughout the 18 holes, including a six-footer on the last to take the match to extra time, but his touch deserted him on the 20th green, missing a short par putt.
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It meant Suart would contest the final against the 2017 champion and the county's current men's first-team captain, Tony Wilkins of Harpenden Common.
And unlike the semi, Suart kept his opponent at arm's length for the majority of the final.
The one glimmer of light for Wilkins came when two-down on the 11th. Suart was well over the back of the green after a shot out of the rough and the Harpenden man was within eight feet.
However, Suart played a miraculous up and down shot while Wilkins putt slithered wide and four holes later the WGC man had won 5&3 to become the first from the club to win the title since Peter Cherry in 1986.
Three others from the club have triumphed previously - Bob Mitchell, Chris Allen and Nick Faldo.
Suart will now represent Hertfordshire at the Men's Champion of Champions event at Woodhall Spa in September.
The 2022 county championship will be played at Hadley Wood in celebration of their centenary year and will take place between Thursday, May 26, 2022, and Sunday May 29.