Birdie on last clinches title
Canterbury GC professional Richard Wallis holed a 15-foot putt to win the PGA Kent Open Championship by one stroke at Prince’s GC.
Wallis, who in April finished runner-up to Matt Ford in the PGA Kent Closed Championship, went one better this time after shooting a two-round nine-under-par total of 135 around the Sandwich Bay links.
A seven-under-par round of 65 on the first day was the decisive stride towards claiming the silver trophy and a cheque for £ 2,000 for his second Virgin Atlantic PGA South Order of Merit win this year.
Pushed all the way to the final hole, he’d arrived on the last tee needing one more birdie to secure victory from West Hill’s David Callaway. Close behind him was The Ridge’s Scott Stevens who’d shot a terrific closing 66 to finish on 137.
Wallis said: “Having shot all those birdies down the back nine on the first day, this time nothing was happening.
“Bogeying the 17th increased the pressure and I needed a birdie to win, so when it mattered I was pleased with a good drive and wedge to the green and especially with that 15-foot putt.” A lesson on the new Aimpoint putting method with Wrotham Heath’s PGA professional James Skelton on the Saturday made a big difference.
Wallis said: “I was much more confident working out the lines and I must have holed at least a dozen mid-range putts, including the one on the 18th.
“The prospect of a fifth Virgin Atlantic PGA South Order of Merit title is exciting and I’m going for it.”
In the first round, Wallis led with a magnificent round of 65, including five birdies in succession from the 12th to the 16th. Yet it only gave him a one shot lead from Elliott Owens (Hever Castle), Simon Mcgreal (Bradfield College) and Lewis Bird (Calcot Park), all of whom shot opening 66s.
In the final round, Wallis had added two more birdies to reach nine-under at the turn. But a crucial slip on the penultimate hole left him level with clubhouse leader Callaway who’d added another 68 to his opening 68 for a total of 136.
Wallis found his winning form when it mattered and duly made the birdie three down the final hole to lift the PGA Kent Open trophy.
With his win in the PGA Southern Open in July, Wallis has now extended his lead significantly in the Virgin Atlantic PGA South Order of Merit.
But with three more events left, the CK Group PGA Southern Professional Championship at Kings Hill in September, the Crisp Thinking PGA Farnham Finale in October, and the finals of the Keith Macdonald Match Play, even with Wallis in the last 16 of the Match Play, there’s plenty of points still up for grabs.