JUST four weeks after ending a seven-year golfing hiatus, Lewis Sanderson is the Evening Mail champion for the second time.

In a remarkable comeback to the game, the 47-year-old enjoyed the pristine greens and fairways of his Furness Golf Club home to win by two strokes.

The 2001 champion only picked up his clubs in anger and rejoined Furness last month, after seven years of playing once or twice a year at most due to his work commitments out of town.

But he showed he has lost none of his class and ability with a nett round of 68, on a day when the kind conditions did not result in the wealth of low-scoring which might have been expected.

“It's been seven years out and four weeks back,” grinned Sanderson after receiving his trophy to warm applause in the Furness clubhouse.

“I was working away, and as contractors do, you just party! But a got a job back home, and I was sat at home thinking I should get back to what I love.

“I love the game, and I was pretty disappointed with myself for not keeping it up. I'm glad I'm back and enjoying it.”

He added: “I had a feeling I was going to do all-right, because I have been hitting the ball really well over the last couple of days. I just knew something was going to happen.

“My short-game has been rubbish for the last three weeks, but it started to come together.”

Sanderson, who described the course as 'immaculate', started with birdies at each of the opening two holes, and could have followed up with another at the third, only for his short-range putting to let him down – as it would again on a battling back-nine – as he three-putted for a bogey instead.

Aside from a six on the 539-yard par-five fifth, he played out the remainder of the front nine in pars for a score of gross 36 at the turn.

A birdie two at the 10th – one of 17 twos recorded on the day, including a remarkable eagle for John McDonald on the ninth, the hardest hole on the course – looked to set him well to match that effort on the way home.

However, a triple-bogey seven at the 11th was the start of his putting woes, with further dropped shots at the 12th and the 14th and then a double-bogey at the 17th. His gross 77 meant a nett 68.

Sanderson admitted he thought his run-in might have cost him the chance of lifting the Festival of Britain trophy for the second time, but he was two shots better off than runner-up Paul Armistead, who had a gross 81 for a nett 69, which included a decisive birdie on the last.

“I've got to be please, but coming back it could have been a lot better,” said Sanderson. “It could have been a 63 or 64.

“I left about five shots out there – easy shots, putts. For some reason, I changed my putting style, thinking it was going to work, but it didn't.

“I thought I had blown it, because normally it's about 66 or 65 that wins it. Coming down 17, I knew if I parred in, I would be on for 66 and in with a chance, but I double-bogeyed 17, which is ridiculous, because it wasn't that hard with the wind the way it was. I just started getting nervous, rushing my swing, snap-hooking.

He added: “I remember I was nervous the first time I won it, but I'm a lot more experienced than I was then. The handicap was down to five at one point, and I want to get it back down there – it's not about winning for me, it's about doing something that I like.”

Rob Spence hit the best gross score of the day with a 67, but his plus-two handicap meant he did not take the overall prize with a gross score of 69.

Spence shot 32 on the inward nine, with successive birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes rocketing him up the leaderboard.

The Furness member, part of the Cumbria team, did not drop a single shot over the course of the 18 holes, with his other birdie coming up the hill towards the coastguard tower on the eighth.


1. Louis Sanderson, 77-9=68; 2. Paul Armistead, 81-12=79 (cpo); 3. Dean Marwood, 74-5=69; 4. Isaac Caine, 75-5=70; 5. Martin Bushby (Dunnerholme), 79-8=71.

Best Gross: 1. Rob Spence, 67; 2. J Capstick, 74.

Nearest Pin: Second: Andrew Kerr; Sixth: Roy Corkill; 10th: Ryan Carter.