Worcestershire captured the PGA England and Wales Inter-County Championship after fending off the challenge of the Essex team at Sutton Coldfield Golf Club in Birmingham.
Represented by Simon Gabbitas and Ian Martin, Worcestershire began the second round a shot clear of the 27-strong field, and that proved to be the margin of victory, as the pair held their collective nerve to repel challenges from some of the PGA’s most accomplished golfers to collect the £4,000 first prize.
Not least at the final hole when, with defending champions Essex, represented by Jason Levermore and Lloyd Kennedy, in the clubhouse on 10 under par, after completing the tournament’s foursomes leg in three-under.
Worcestershire were 11-under when Martin teed off at the par-four 18th, but a play-off against the Essex duo loomed large when Hagley Golf Club’s Gabbitas deposited his approach into a greenside bunker. Martin was equal to the challenge, however.
“I do like bunker shots, and I was quietly confident on that one,” said Martin, who is attached to Kings Norton Golf Club.
His confidence resulted in the ball landing close to the hole although, despite the harmony and camaraderie exhibited by the pair over the two rounds, there was a debate as to how far away it was. Martin estimated a foot-and-a-half. Given the foursomes format, which meant Gabbitas was tasked with holing the putt for victory, he countered by adding a foot.
“It was definitely two-and-a-half feet away,” he joked. “To be honest, when you start realising there’s money on it, the tournament is on it, and you don’t want to let your partner down, the putt seemed a lot longer than it was. You can tap those in all day long one-handed, but for some reason it was hard. But it went in the middle, and Ian didn’t bring his putter, so he did have some faith in me!”
Reflecting on the secret of the pair’s success, despite not having played together before, Gabbitas added: “We’re first and second in Worcestershire’s Order of Merit, so that’s how we qualified to represent the county. But we’ve known each other for a while and always got on. That was reflected in our game. We enjoyed ourselves, and it was a very relaxed and calm environment. We dovetailed well and holed a load of putts. This is the biggest achievement of my golfing career, and I think it is for Ian as well.”
Leading scores: Worcestershire 133 (-11); Essex 134 (-10); Devon 135 (-9); Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire 136 (-8).
Four of the South East’s most prestigious golf clubs have been chosen to host qualifying events for the 2020 Senior Open being held at Sunningdale Golf Club next summer.
Hopefuls will compete for a minimum of 24 places at Burhill, The Berkshire, Camberley Heath (pictured above) and Foxhills in their bid to take part in the Senior Open, when it returns to the Old Course at Sunningdale from July 23-26, 2020. The same four clubs hosted qualifying when Sunningdale last held the tournament in 2015.
A record 591 players entered qualifying events in 2018, while 525 fought for 49 places at this year’s Senior Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
David Williams, Tournament Director of the Senior Open, said: “It is fitting that Europe’s only Senior Major holds qualifying at venues as fine as these. They will demand shot-making and scoring ability as they play a pivotal role in completing the elite field for this great Championship.”
Monday Qualifying will take place at these venues on Monday, July 20, 2020. Entry forms for the 2020 Senior Open will be available in the new year.
Bernd Wiesberger claimed his second Rolex Series title of the year and third European Tour victory of the season with a hard-fought victory in the Italian Open.
The Austrian started the final round three shots behind overnight leader Matthew Fitzpatrick, but carded a bogey-free 65 to finish one shot clear of the Englishman on 16 under par.
Wiesberger posted three consecutive birdies from the fifth hole followed by a further gain on the ninth, and he went to the top of the leaderboard when Fitzpatrick, who had birdied the second, hit it out of bounds on the ninth leading to a costly double-bogey seven.
Wiesberger looked in control on the back nine with birdies at 14 and 16, but Fitzpatrick staged an impressive fightback with three birdies in his final six holes, however the former Ryder Cup player’s eagle effort from 12 feet at 17 lipped out and he could not find another birdie on the last to force a play off.
That meant Wiesberger became the fifth player to win multiple Rolex Series titles after his maiden win in the Scottish Open in July. The 34 year old now leads the Race to Dubai with just six events remaining, having also won in Denmark in May following seven months on the sidelines in 2018 due to a wrist injury.
Fitzpatrick signed for a closing 69 as he finished runner-up for the fourth time this season, having also come second in the Hong Kong Open, the BMW International and the Scandinavian Invitation.
American Kurt Kitayama finished third on 12 under, a shot clear of Andrew Johnston, Robert MacIntyre and another Austrian in Matthias Schwab, who shared fourth. Francesco Laporta posted a final round 68 to finish as the leading Italian player in a three-way share of seventh place.
Wiesberger said:”It’s been a great summer for me. I’ve played a lot of good golf and made a lot of progress after coming back from the injury last year. I’ve played really well in the right events in Ireland and the Scottish, and here this week, which helps getting up there in the Race to Dubai. I feel excited about what is ahead of us in these last four events.”
Bernd Wiesberger What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Titleist TS3 (8.5°)
Fairway wood: Titleist TS3 (13.5°)
Hybrid: Titleist 818 H2 (17°)
Utility Iron: Titleist U500 prototype (3)
Irons: Titleist 718 CB (4-6), Titleist 718 MB (7-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (46°, 53°, 59°)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura T5W Tour
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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Oliver Farr carded a scintillating nine-under-par final round 63 to win the Lalla Aïcha Challenge held at at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Morocco.
The 31-year-old Welshman started the final day four shots behind overnight leaders Jack Senior and Joel Sjöholm, but soon charged up the leaderboard with three consecutive birdies from the third hole, picking up two further shots on the seventh and eighth to reach the turn in just 31 strokes. Looking to secure his first victory since the 2017 Foshan Open, Farr kept his foot firmly on the pedal, posting four further birdies over his back nine, including on the 18th, to finish on 15 under par and record a three-shot victory over Senior.
With his win, Farr moves from 37th to 13th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings as he eyes his third promotion onto the European Tour, following successful Challenge Tour campaigns in 2014 and 2017. “It’s been a hard year for me and my family, so to get this win is extra special, not just for me but for everyone back home,” he said. “I’ve only got three events left now, so I’ve still got to play great and hopefully I can continue this form until the end of the season. I always feel like I can win tournaments, but as the year goes on you start to question whether you can, so to get this win just feels great.”
Senior, who shot a closing 70, cemented his place in the all-important top 15 in the Road to Mallorca rankings, moving up seven spots into fourth position. He finished one shot clear of 20-year-old Dane Oliver Hundebøll, who finished on 11 under after a stunning 66 on Sunday to record the best result of his career.
Kevin Na produced a record-breaking putting display on his way to a play-off victory at the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.
Na, who lives in Vegas, made a PGA Tour record of 558 feet of putts during the week at TPC Summerlin, posting a one-under 70 on the final day to join Patrick Cantlay tied on 23 under.
Both players birdied the first extra play-off hole, before a par at the next hole was enough for Na to secure his fourth PGA Tour title, and leaving Cantlay to settle for his second successive runner-up finish in a tournament that he also won in 2017.
Aluding to his impressive form with the putter, Na said: “The putter got hot this week. It tends to do that sometimes, and when it does, if I’m hitting it halfway decent, I feel like I can win. I should have kissed my putter after I won, but I’ll give it a kiss when I get home.”
KEVIN NA – WHAT’S IN THE BAG
Driver: Callaway GBB Epic (9)
Fairway Wood: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (13.5)
Hybrid: PXG 0317X Gen2 (18 d)
Irons: Callaway Rogue Pro (4), Callaway Apex Pro 2016 (5-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (50, 54), Titleist Vokey prototype (60)
Putter: Odyssey Toulon Madison
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x