Dixon’s Turkish delight

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FORMER European Tour member David Dixon earned himself a career lifeline by winning the PGA Play-Offs at Antalya Golf Club on a day that was full of twists, turns, sub-plots and top class golf.

Staged at the home of the PGA National Turkey, it was typified by Matt Cort, the overnight co-leader, posting a second successive five-under-par round of 66 and having to settle for the runner’s up berth three shots adrift of Dixon.

That was the gap between Cort and Dixon at the turn after the former had put the challenging PGA Sultan course to the sword.

He posted six birdies on the front nine but, perhaps because of the ill-effects of a heavy cold, was unable to maintain his momentum.

What followed, however, was a case of Dixon snatching the prize from his grasp rather than the pro from Beedles Lake Golf Club in Leicestershire squandering his advantage.

Two shots behind after Cort bogeyed the par four 14th, Dixon signed off with a birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie salvo to post a 13-under-par total for the three rounds and claim the £3,500 first prize.

In addition, and like Cort, he has booked his place in next year’s Great Britain and Ireland PGA Cup team, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and the British Masters.

All of which came as much as a surprise as a relief to Dixon who is attached to Enmore Park Golf Club in Somerset.

“I didn’t have any expectations for this week at all,” he admitted. “I went to the second stage of Tour School and played well. But I couldn’t hole any putts so I’ve lost all my categories and exemptions for the European and Challenge Tours.

“It meant I had nothing for next year apart from coming here to see if I could do any good and earn a couple of starts. I came out to enjoy a week’s golf before a long winter but came good in the end.

“Corty got off to such an unbelievable start, I felt I was playing for second place. So I aimed to just keep hitting good shots because you never know what can happen.

“Finishing like that is the stuff of what dreams are made of. I’ve had good finishes before but considering what was on the line, it’s probably the best hour of golf in my life.”

Similarly unexpected was the manner in which Robert Coles’s tournament was transformed.

Coles had been the Great Britain and Ireland PGA Cup team’s leading points scorer in the victory over the USA at Foxhills last year and had already been named as one of Cameron Clark’s vice captains for the match in Texas next September.

However, his chance of qualifying as a player looked remote after he began the final round way down the field on two-over.

That is until he also signed off in style with an eagle, par, birdie finish for an eight-under-par round of 63.

It all added up to 54-hole total of six-under and a sudden death play-off with Scotland’s Paul O’Hara to determine who would join Dixon and Cort in the PGA Cup team.

In the event Cole did not have to complete the hole after O’Hara, unable to extricate his ball that was wedged under the lip of a fairway bunker, conceded.

“I was very fortunate to get through like that,” said Cole, who represents Maylands Golf and Country Club in Essex and is a former European Tour player.

“It was a tough week for me. I struggled through most of it and hit a lot of practice shots, worked hard, and finally got something better going yesterday. I took it to the course today and managed to keep it going.

“I certainly didn’t think about making the team after the first two rounds. I wanted to post a good score for my own pride. It got better at the end, especially finishing off eagle, par, birdie.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in because I wasn’t expecting it. So I’m thrilled, really excited and surprised.”

Coles also qualifies for the BMW PGA Championship as a result of finishing third, as does O’Hara who is well-placed in the points table for a place in the PGA Cup team.

 

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