CLUSTERS of birdies underpinned Damon Coulson’s capture of the York Amateur Championship crown.

The Fulford Golf Club ace joined an illustrious roster of previous winners of the esteemed title when he topped a strong field by two clear shots in immaculate playing conditions at Knaresborough GC.

The 19-year-old Coulson, who was today defending his club title at Fulford, posted a superb four under-par 68 in the opening round, a score only bettered by 67 from Pike Hills GC’s Alistair Smith.

Then among the penultimate threesome out in the afternoon, while he toiled, Coulson knew what he had to do and finished with one-over-par 73 to land the title on 141, two shots clear of second-placed Craig Smith (70 73) of Pike Hills.

Third place was shared by Smith (67 77) and Sandburn Hall GC’s Rob Heath (74 70) - the latter shooting the afternoon’s best round - both on 144.

Coulson, who also gathered in the Yorkshire Order of Merit Hornsea Gutty title last summer, was thrilled by his first York Amateur success.

“There’s some great names on that trophy, including Simon Dyson, so it’s good that I have won the title now,” he enthused.

“I started off really well on the day. Then, after I got into a bit of a struggle in the middle I finished strongly with three straight birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th,” recalled Coulson, who paid tribute to the sterling work done by Alex Heels, who caddied for him in warm conditions.

“I struggled a lot more in the second round. At one stage I was three over par. But I eagled the par-four tenth and followed that with a birdie on the par-five 11th. By the time I got to the closing holes I knew I had done enough to win.”

Now playing off plus one, Coulson said his immediate aim was to defend his Fulford GC championship today before embarking on a bid to qualify for The Open next month.

Last season he advanced from the regional round at Moortown GC in Leeds before just missing out in the final qualifier at Dunbar.

“I’m going back to Moortown to try again for The Open and there;s also a few Yorkshire Order of Merit events to aim at,” said the man, who is now part of York golf’s illustrious amateur folklore.

FORMER European Tour player John Mellor, now based at The Oaks GC, tied for first place in the PGA North Brough Classic Pro-am.

Mellor shot rounds of 68 and 65 to share the top spot with Mossock Hall’s David Shacklady (67 66) and another ex-Tour pro, Rotherham’s Ben Mason (70 63).

Snainton Golf Centre’s John Wells was two shots further behind (67 68).