A total of 81 regional PGA Professionals teed it up at Delamere Forest Golf Club on Tuesday in the hope of qualifying for the prestigious and lucrative PGA Professional Championship at Burnham & Berrow GC on June 2-5.
The grand final boasts a £91,500 prize fund and for PGA Professionals is the ‘big one’ we all want to win, with places for the PGA Cup later in the year in the USA also at stake at the final.
In order to be able to compete, however, players must come through one of the tough regional qualifying tournaments. The qualifier for the North West region was contested over one of Cheshire’s finest golf courses at Delamere Forest on a cold, wet and windy day. There were only 13 qualifying spots available for the players competing at Delamere, meaning a solid performance battling against the elements would be needed to get through.
Experience proved to be decisive as 2001 PGA Professional Champion and two-time Open Championship participant Simon Edwards (Windermere GC) finished top of the pile to book his spot in the final again. Edwards defied the conditions to fire a bogey-free 69(-3) holding off Disley Golf Club’s Scott Jackson by a single shot in the process. The pair were closely followed by five players tied on 71(-1) and five players tied on 72(Ev).
The final qualifying spot was tied for by four players, including myself, at 73(+1) meaning a sudden death playoff was needed to determine the last qualifying spot. The first play-off hole was the demanding par-four first hole, where I managed a regulation two-putt par which was matched by Holywell’s Matthew Parsley, whose up-and-down for par was enough to take the two of us to a second playoff hole. Declan Dixon of Penwortham GC was eliminated with a bogey at the first and Ben Spanton had failed to return to the venue in time for the playoff.
The second playoff hole was the par-three fourth hole. I pulled my seven-iron tee shot into the left hand greenside bunker and despite hitting a great putt to try and save par, the ball burned the edge of the hole and I had to settle for bogey. Parsley played a very solid approach shot to around 30 feet and calmly two-putted for par to win the playoff and grab the final qualifying spot.
Overall I am obviously disappointed not to get through, but there are plenty of positives to take from my performance and plenty of opportunities for me coming up this season. Congratulations to all who have booked their place in the final.