Rooke flying high in Tenby

THE notion that a blindfold and a pin would be the best method of predicting the winner of the Welsh National PGA Championship at its halfway stage has much to recommend it writes Adrian Milledge

LeeRookeAfter one negotiation of Tenby Golf Club’s scenic but challenging course, just four strokes span a sizeable posse vying for the £1,500 first prize on offer in the AsbriGolf sponsored event.

At its head lie Lee Rooke and Thomas Woods after posting two-under-par rounds of 68.

And for those looking for form and pedigree in predicting the victor, then Rooke (pictured) is perhaps the most credible candidate.

For a start he is a previous winner of an event in which onetime Masters champion Ian Woosnam as well as former Ryder Cup stars Phillip Price and Brian Hugget have also been victorious.

As yet that honours roll, which dates back to 1904, does not include a female but with Ladies European Tour winner Lydia Hall on one-under that could change.

As for Rooke’s chances of reprising his triumph of three years ago, his home course should have provided the perfect testing ground for this assignment.

That is if the rough at Royal St David’s further up the Welsh coast in Harlech is anywhere near as punitive as it is at Tenby.

Stray off line here and, in the words of Dads’ Army’s Private Frazer, “we’re doomed”.

Not that that is the result of any malevolence from the green keepers. Far from it. Just as the greens were excellent and true, the rough was luxuriant because it is a favoured nesting place for larks and opportunities to trim it are few and far between.

“You’ve got to keep the ball on the fairway round here otherwise you could be in a lot of trouble,” said Rooke, after signing off with a bogey that cost him the outright lead.

In terms of playing straight, Kristian Crane did just that when he holed the 115-yard par three in one.

“It went in on the second bounce,” said Crane who represents Pwllheli Golf Club. “I used a 50° gap wedge and, although I’ve had a couple in general play, this was the first one I’ve had in a tournament.”

The ace was not sufficient to put Crane among the leaders but, ending the round on five-over, he is in good company

He is level with Richard Dinsdale, another previous winner who is representing the sponsors, and one behind Price.


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