CRAIG Waddington won the Harold Ryden Trophy on Wednesday night after an emphatic win over Anthony Harwood at Blackburn.

The one-handicapper from Nelson secured a 7&6 triumph over the home favourite to land the title for the first time.

Waddington took the lead on the first hole and never looked back as he coasted to a win on the 12th green.

He had to do things the hard way, though, as the matchplay draw pitted him against a former champion at every stage.

After coming through Saturday's qualifying in fourth place, Waddington beat defending champion Anthony Keenan in the last eight.

Then he had to overcome club-mate and 2002 winner Nick Uttley for a spot in the final.

Harwood, the winner in 2017, had been in superb form to beat Pleasington's Owen Leigh 3&1 in the quarters and Burnley's Gary Blades 7&6 in the semis but failed to maintain his level of play on Wednesday.

Waddington birdied the par-five fourth to move on ahead after the pair exchanged the first two holes and would not relinquish that lead.

In front of a crowd of almost 100, he made hole-winning pars at the seventh, eighth, 10th and 11th to move well clear, and when his opponent took three putts from the back of the par-three 12th the title was his.

Speaking at the presentation he said: "It is an honour to stand here as East Lancashire's champion.

"Blackburn has been in immense condition all week and huge credit to the greens staff, the greens were possibly too quick at times but we can't moan about that!

"Anthony is a great golfer but tonight just wasn't his night. He'll be back next year, though, I am sure.

"I've got to say thanks to my dad who has caddied for me all three nights, he has said the right thing at the right time and kept me calm."

Beaten Harwood, now a three-time runner-up, said: "Craig is a deserving champion, he played really good golf in the situation.

"My phone has been going mad with messages of good luck etc so I want to thank everyone who backed me in one way or another.

"I will take this defeat on the chin and go again."

With the win, Waddington becomes Nelson's fifth Harold Ryden champion – after Steve Duerden, Nick Uttley, Craig Fort and Dave Rigby - and their first in a decade.

ELGA Secretary Andy Dean said: "We have a winner we can be really proud of in Craig.

"From the moment he arrived on Saturday morning to his speech on Wednesday night he has been a touch of class.

"He dug in when he needed to in the knockout stages and holed some huge putts, particularly against Nick Uttley on Tuesday.

"I have to say a few words about Anthony, too. His speech, coming immediately after a heavy defeat on his own course, spoke volumes about what a gentleman he is. He was complimentary about his opponent and handled himself like the champion he is.

"Massive credit must go to Blackburn Golf Club for this week, it has been the perfect venue – on and off the course – and the 2019 Harold Ryden could not have gone better."