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An outstanding piece of sportsmanship may have cost James Ashfield The Lytham Trophy, but still Welsh golfers showed they are in form to compete with the best in Europe.

The European Nations Cup champion called a foul against himself on the 18th hole of the final round, the one shot penalty putting him into a three way play-off instead of a one shot victory.

Up against Wales teammate Tomi Bowen, Welshpool, and England’s Will Hopkins in the play-off, it was the Englishman who came out on top after three extra holes.

Having two Wales players in a play-off at one of the top amateur golf trophies, with Royal Porthcawl’s Matt Roberts one shot back in fourth place, shows Wales are developing the form and depth to compete at the top levels – with all those players coming through the Wales Golf coaching pathway.

“I was struggling with my putter, but playing well enough to have a one shot lead going up the last after a nice birdie on 16,” explained Ashfield.

“I hit it in the rough, but felt good about the shot with about 100 yards to the green. I hovered the club about six inches behind the ball, did not even press down on the grass, but then the ball moved.

“I called the referee over, and she asked if I felt I had made the ball move. I thought that the ball only moved when I got there, so I gave myself a one shot penalty.

“I do not even know if that was the correct ruling, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. I left myself a 15 foot putt for par and the title, hit it really nicely but it did not drop. Then the play-off did not go to plan.

Despite his personal disappointment, Ashfield believes having three players finishing in the top four in a high quality competition such as The Lytham Trophy augurs well for Wales in team events later in the summer.

It follows five Welsh players finishing tied sixth or better at the Welsh Men’s Open Stroke Play, with the top three all Welsh.

It also shows Ashfield is in good form going into the final 16 of the Blackstar Winter Matchplay Championship on home ground at the Vale Resort, with four Challenge Tour starts on offer for the winner.

“It was great for Wales Golf to have so many of us doing well in Lytham, a lot of us have come into this year pretty hot to be honest,” said Ashfield.

“We finished third in the European Nations in Sotogrande, but a few of us felt we left some shots out there, including me, so we were gutted not to have won it.

“We are showing at events like Sotogrande and Lytham how much we can compete with the top nations. I can definitely see us doing well at events like the European Team Championships this year, we have got the depth there with a lot of good players.

“I was nursing a wrist injury in the last couple of rounds at Lytham, hopefully that will be OK for the start of the Blackstar on Friday.

“I played my first EuroPro Tour event there and had a hole in one, so I have some good memories there. The prize of four Challenge Tour starts is a big one for me.

“It will be a good opportunity to gain experience and if I did well then it could kickstart my professional career.”

Ashfield’s sportsmanship deserves a reward, maybe it will come this week.