Golf: Chris Handy retains Durham County Strokeplay Championship by three shots

South Moor's Chris Handy successfully retained the Durham County Strokeplay Championship at Billingham yesterday, finishing three shots clear.

Handy closed with his best round of the weekend, a four-under-par 67, to finish on 280, four under for the tournament.

He opened with a 74 on Friday, then carded 70 on Saturday and 69 in his third round yesterday morning.

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Castle Eden’s Thomas Harbord was the runner-up, and the only other competitor to finish under par.

He shot rounds of 71, 74, 70 and 68 to close on 283, one under par.

The 2007 champion, David Patterson (Seaham), was third on 285 (one over), following rounds of 74, 70, 75 and a sparkling, closing 66.

Boldon’s Gavin Nesbit posted an opening 76 but responded well with 72, 69 and 70 to finish joint fourth on 287 (three over par), alongside Eaglescliffe’s Tom Smith.

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Wearside’s David Vest finished sixth on 288, helped by a fine 69 in his final round, following scores of 72, 73 and 74.

Richard Aisbitt, champion in 2003, 2014 and 2015, was seventh for Brancepeth Castle with consistent round of 71, 74, 72 and 72 for a five-over-par total of 289.

Bishop Auckland’s Michael Henson ended eight on 291, with Chester-le-Street’s Alex Carr (73, 74, 74, 71) and James Wilson of Tyneside completing the top 10 on 292 apiece.

South Shields’ Martin McCririck, the 2011 champion, was joint 14th on 293 along with Durham City’s Andy Bell.

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Durham City’s Jack Richardson was joint 22nd on 296, with club-mate Graeme Marchbank joint 24th on 297 alongside Castle Eden’s Jack Trewhitt. Boldon’s James Gerencser was 34th with rounds of 77, 76, 73 and 76 to finish on 302 (18 over par).

Handy’s triumph saw him become the fifth player to be champion in successive years in recent times, following Tony McLure (1999-2000), Michael Curry (2005-2006), Callum Tarren (2009-2010) and Aisbitt (2014-2015)