Archive for the ‘PGA Golf’ Category

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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Higgins is up for the cup again!

DAVID Higgins admits the PGA Cup holds a special place in his heart after being named as Cameron Clark’s second vice-captain for the match against America in Texas next year.

Irishman Higgins (pictured) was one of the standout performers as Great Britain & Ireland comfortably beat the United States at Foxhills Club & Resort in September 2017.

The 45-year-old claimed three-and-half points on his PGA Cup debut as Albert MacKenzie’s side secured back-to-back victories over their American counterparts.

Higgins will join up with fellow former European Tour player Rob Coles as vice-captain to Clark as Great Britain and Ireland bid to make history by winning three co

David Higgins 2.jpgnsecutive matches in the competition at Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas, from September 27-29.

“Playing in the 2017 PGA Cup was a special week so to know I’m going to be involved again is fantastic and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Higgins, winner of the 2016 PGA Professional Championship.

“The whole experience at Foxhills was fantastic. I was delighted to make the

team and I was excited about it but I didn’t realise what an honour it is to play for your country.

“It will be a different feeling being there as vice-captain but I think I’ll enjoy it just as much. If it’s anything like Foxhills it’s going to be one hell of a week. If Cameron, Rob (Coles) and I can re-produce something like that again we’ll have done a fantastic job.”

Asked what qualities captain Clark had identified in himself, Higgins continued: “I feel I can help the team whether I’m playing or in a vice-captain role.

“Cameron is the boss and they’ll be times when it might feel lonely, when thing

s aren’t going his way. It’s up to Rob and I to be there for him, to support him and to figure out ways to get things back on track because it’s a tough job.

“It’s up to Cameron, Rob and myself now to figure out how we’re going to win in America. Obviously we don’t know the team yet but we have to figure out a way of getting the lads comfortable so they can bring their best game that week.”

Commenting on Higgins’ appointment, Clark said: “David epitomised what the PGA Cup is all about with his performances and attitude at Foxhills.

“The passion he showed at the event and how competitive he was demonstrated how much David wanted the win and that was one of the main reasons I selected him as my vice-captain.

“David is a very calm and calculated individual. He thinks about things long and hard and he’ll then provide his rational view. That’s what I really like about

him. We’ll have the vocal influence from Rob and that calming influence from Dave.

“From a playing perspective I can’t have two better guys out there looking at the course with me and going through that type of detail. It was a pretty simple decision for me to come up with these two names.”

Robert Maxfield, chief executive of The PGA, added: “I am delighted with Cameron’s selection to name David as one of his vice-captains.

“All ten team members played their part in Great Britain & Ireland’s victory at Foxhills back in 2017, but David’s passion and love for this event was there for all to see. He was a calming influence throughout the week both on and off the course.

“Whether it be as a vice-captain or a player, I am confident David will flourish once again in Texas next year and he will have another important role to play in 2019.”

We love golf swings into action at Top Golf

TOPGOLF and the Professional Golfers’ Associations’ We Love Golf campaign will team up this month to get the women of Watford playing. The project, that has been designed following several months of research and development by the We Love Golf campaign, will drive women’s interest in trying out golf, give them the chance to hit their first golf ball in a fun and friendly environment, and provide a clear pathway to continued engagement at their local golf club.

The project begins with a free We Love Golf taster session at Topgolf Watford, on Tuesday the November 20.  The event will be hosted by Topgolf’s team of PGA Professionals who will be on hand to take participants through the basics, help them hit their own targets and make sure that everyone has fun. This event will help women take the first, often most difficult, swing into golf but the team behind the event will also help direct their route into continued participation.

The We Love Golf campaign launched by The Professional Golfers’ Association earlier this year has identified that learning in groups is one of the key principles to retaining women’s interest in the game. As such, the women who attend the taster session at Topgolf will be offered the chance to sign up to a series of group beginner sessions running through the winter at Aldenham Golf Club.

It is hoped that by feeling part of a new community from day one will help build confidence, encourage those next steps and establish the friendship groups that keep women coming back to golf.

“Partnerships like the one we have developed here with Topgolf and Aldenham Golf Club will be at the heart of our drive to get more women playing golf,” comments Robert Maxfield, chief executive of the PGA,

“The We Love Golf campaign brings together the very best of the game and shows women that playing golf can be the perfect place to have fun and develop lifelong friendships. Beyond that, it provides clear pathways into continued participation and the enjoyment of learning to play and being part of a community of likeminded people.  We are really excited to see how this project develops and look forward to seeing how they get along in the coming months.”

Topgolf has established itself as the premier golf entertainment experience and prides itself on inspiring connections and bringing people together which is why it is the perfect partner for this first foray into events for the We Love Golf campaign.

Andrew Agnoli, advanced PGA Professional and head of academy at Topgolf explains: “Topgolf and The PGA’s WeLoveGolf campaign share a very similar vision for the future of golf which is around creating friendships and life long memories regardless of age, gender or skillset. Topgolf is providing a fun, casual environment to make this happen on a regular basis. We want as many people as possible to enjoy the game we love and are delighted to be able to work with the PGA to create this opportunity for local women and girls to try golf for the first time.”

Paul Lancaster, general manager at Aldenham Golf Club,  is delighted to be the first Golf Club to benefit from the association between We Love Golf and Topgolf,

“The  campaign in association with Topgolf is exactly the type of activity that the golf industry needs to embrace to get more non-golfers, especially women and girls, engaged with the game of golf.  Starting off in the relaxed and fun environment of Topgolf before progressing to our 9 hole Village course is a great route into the game so many of us love and enjoy.”

The PGA’s We Love Golf campaign will continue into 2019 with plans to work in collaboration with industry bodies to stimulate interest

 

No joy for Lancashire in Belfry showdown

LANCASHIRE gave it their best shot but Essex made a successful defence of the PGA in England and Wales Inter-County Championship at The Belfry to become the first team to win the tournament twice.

In doing so, they relied on the same line up of Jason Levermore, Brett Taylor and James Scade to claim the trophy and £4,000 first prize.

And the stage for their victory, the PGA National course at the four time Ryder Cup venue, was also the same.

The manner of their triumph, however, was at odds with the way the tournament reached its conclusion 12 months ago.

There was no need for a tension-laden play-off this time as the seven-shot advantage Essex established in the first of the two rounds proved decisive.

The tournament was theirs to lose and although Nottinghamshire and Surrey both posted better scores in the second round than the winners-elect, retrieving the deficit proved beyond them.

With the best two scores from each trio counting, Nottinghamshire, inspired by another sub-par round from Lee Clarke posted a two-under-par total to finish on one-over for the tournament. That was matched by Surrey who were level par at the start of the day.

The Essex response of three-over-par was in sharp contrast with the high-octane golf they produced in the first round.

Once again Levermore was their main man. His round of level par took his score for the tournament to five-under and, in tandem with Clarke, its best performing individual.

Meanwhile, Taylor executed the shot of the tournament – a hole-in-one at the par three 11th.

Despatched by a seven-iron, the ball bounced once before landing in the hole for the 16th  ace of Taylor’s career.

SCORES: Essex -4; Nottinghamshire, Surrey +1; Devon +4; Lancashire +14

 

Close Shave as Whetstone Park win Lombard Trophy

WHETSTONE Park pair Craig Shave and Phil Wright proved aptly-named as well as perfect partners in winning the Lombard Trophy at Pestana Vila Sol, Portugal.

Their victory over Carden Park, who were represented by former European Tour player Garry Houston and his amateur sidekick, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Patrick Laing, was indeed a close shave.

That it was secured by a nett birdie at the final hole on the resort’s Prime course confirmed Shave’s amateur partner was made of the right stuff.

According to Shave, Wright, a 16-handicapper, was a bundle of nerves throughout the two rounds.

However, when faced with that crucial putt on the par-four 18th, he became Mr Ice Man in the Portuguese sunshine.

At that stage, both Carden Park, two holes behind, and Whetstone Park were on 12-under and Wright, faced with two putts from six metres to secure that all important nett birdie, left the first inches from the hole for a tap-in.

Carden Park had their own birdie opportunities to force a play-off and Houston was left to ponder what might have been had his putt on the 17th dropped into the hole as opposed to embarking on a frustrating tour of its rim.

All of which meant the Leicestershire lads had ended up a shot clear of their rivals from Cheshire after starting the final pursuit of the £12,000 first prize on five-under, three strokes behind them.

Dukinfield and Worldham Golf Clubs had also ended the first round of the tournament supported by Pestana Hotels and Coca Cola on eight-under and at that stage Shave felt winning was beyond him and his partner.

“We thought if we could get to 12 or 13-under we might scrape into the top three,” he reflected. “So it’s a surprise to win at 13-under.”

Shave, a winner of Order of Merit events in the PGA Midlands region and victorious in last year’s PGAs of Europe La Manga Club IV Pro-Am, also admitted this was the highlight of his career to date.

“This is my biggest and most prestigious win by far,” he added. “It’s unbelievable. It’s been a great week for both us.

“Phil has really enjoyed it, has been great company and the tournament has been staged at a fantastic venue and run superbly.”

“As for the secret of our success, we get on, have a laugh, and there are no apologies. We just crack on and get on with it. We gelled well – when I had a bad hole Phil was there and vice versa.”

Leading scores: Whetstone Park 131 (-13); Carden Park 132 (-12); Piltdown, Worldham 135 (-9).

 

Bernard Gallacher to become PGA captain

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Bernard Gallacher OBE (right) receiving The PGA Recognition Award from the then PGA captain Nicky Lumb free to use courtesy of Tom Dulat, Getty Images

FORMER Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher has said he is “honoured and humbled” to have been invited to become captain of The Professional Golfers’ Association.

The 69-year-old, who played in eight Ryder Cup matches, captained the European team in 1991, 93 and 95, and won 22 professional tournaments, will succeed Peter Hanna as PGA captain in April 2021.

He was also the head PGA Professional at Wentworth for a quarter of a century and membership of the Association has been a constant and important thread throughout his career.

“Despite my success in tournaments and involvement with the Ryder Cup as a player and captain, first and foremost I have always regarded myself as a club pro,” said Gallagher who turned professional in 1967.

“I am a proud PGA Member and I am honoured and humbled to have been asked to captain the Association.”

In doing so Gallacher will join the select band comprising JH Taylor, Ted Ray, George Duncan, Henry Cotton, Bernard Hunt, Dai Rees, and Eric Brown, who have captained both The PGA and a Great Britain and Ireland or European Ryder Cup team.

The roster of PGA captains also includes Fred Daly and Max Faulkner, Open Championship winners in 1947 and 1951 respectively, the ‘Voice of Golf’, Peter Alliss, and Tommy Horton, a close friend of Gallacher.

All, like Gallacher, were PGA Professionals of a bygone age who combined their roles as traditional club pros with competing at an elite level.

In Gallacher’s case he found time during his tenure as head PGA pro at Wentworth to win 10 European Tour events, 11 other professional tournaments, and a solitary success on the European Senior Tour.

He also played in eight Ryder Cup matches and represented his native Scotland in the World Cup on five occasions.

Gallacher took over the reins at Wentworth from Tom Halliburton, his mentor, in 1972 and, reflecting on his dual role as club pro and tournament player, he said: “There’s no chance that could happen now.

“The demands on Tour players make that an impossibility. Similarly the role of Ryder Cup captain is a full time one – that wasn’t the case in my day.

“I was still head pro at Wentworth when I captained the team and some of the members came out to Kiawah Island in 1991 to support us.”

Gallacher was awarded the OBE in 1996 and was so highly thought of at Wentworth that, following his retirement a year later, a statue of him was erected at the club.

Since then he has worked in the media and been in-demand as an after-dinner and motivational speaker. It was during one speaking engagement in Aberdeen that he suffered a cardiac arrest and was revived by a defibrillator kept in the building.

This inspired his wife, Lesley, with his support, to launch a successful campaign that encouraged golf clubs to raise funds to have at least one defibrillator on site.

Commenting on Gallacher’s nomination as PGA captain, the Association’s chief executive Robert Maxfield said: “Just as Bernard is honoured to become captain, so are we that he will take on the role.

“Although he has been one of the most high-profile and respected figures in golf for almost 50 years and still is, he has never forgotten his roots and calling as a PGA Professional.

“As a result he has been a loyal and superb ambassador for the Association and we look forward to him continuing to do so as its captain.”

Corrigan on fire – and Chorley duo wax lyrical!

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TROPHY GLITTER: Chorley duo Gary Wood (left) and Andy Palmer (righ) are congratulated on winning the Robert Wax Trophy by Manchester Alliance president John Dowd

THE Manchester Alliance swung into action for the winter season at Romiley Golf Club with a full field on a low scoring day.

Chilli Dip teaching professional Craig Corrigan stole the limelight by racking up a stunning 47 points which could stand as a record as he finished seven clear of runner-up Alistair Waddell, from Chorlton.

He also topped the pro-am section, partnering Mark Riley (Leigh) to 49 points ahead of Andy Palmer and Gary Wood (Chorley) who won the Robert Wax Trophy – awarded to players from the same club – on a 45 point a countback from Jamie Howarth and Mike Lamb (Bramhall).