Birdie on last clinches ti­tle

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Golf -

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.

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