07 Jan 19
The final stop on a journey that will end in Austin, Texas, and has already taken in Little Aston and Turkey, will be on England’s east coast at Hunstanton Golf Club.
Overlooking The Wash, the course which has hosted The Brabazon Trophy and English Amateur Championship and is regularly rated as one of the top 100 in Britain and Ireland, will stage the 2019 Titleist and FootJoy PGA Professional Championship.
Described as a ‘classic links course and true championship test of golf’ by three time Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher, it will be hosting The PGA’s most prestigious tournament for the first time.
In doing so the 6,700-plus yards par 72 lay-out that wends its way through dunes and can be made even more challenging by winds gusting in from the North Sea will play a key role in determining the bulk of the Great Britain and Ireland PGA Cup team that will attempt to record an historic hat-trick of victories over the USA in Texas in September.
David Dixon, Matthew Cort and Rob Coles have already booked their places in Cameron Clark’s 10-strong line-up as a result of finishing first, second and third respectively in the PGA Play Offs at Antalya Golf Club, Turkey.
Six of the remaining places will go to the players who have amassed most points from last and this year’s Titleist and FootJoy PGA Professional Championship.
Defending champion Andy Willey (pictured below) leads the way with 20 points, one clear of Paul O’Hara, the runner up last year, and two ahead of James Freeman, who finished third.
However, with this year’s points worth one-and-half times more than those on offer in 2018 there is plenty of scope for change and, for players who did not fare so well 12 months ago, a big opportunity to claim a place in the team.
The inaugural WPGA Cup will also be staged in Texas in late October and, as with the men’s team, four of the five-strong line-up will be determined by points earned from performances in this and last year’s Titleist and FootJoy WPGA Professional Championship.
The 2019 tournament will again be held at Trentham Golf Club, Staffordshire and, with points worth one-and-half times those earned in 2018, defending champion Keely Chiericato (10 points), Heather MacRae (9) and Ali Gray and Maria Tulley (7.5) will be looking to consolidate their places in the top four.
The 36-hole tournament will be contested on May 31, a fortnight after the season’s curtain-raiser, the Senior PGA Professional Championship reaches its conclusion at Foxhills Club & Resort, Surrey.
Lindrick Golf Club’s John King, who prevailed in the play-off against Mark Ridley to claim the £6,000 winner’s cheque at the same venue in 2018, will attempt to become the first player since the late Tommy Horton to make a successful title defence.
Horton also won the PGA Seniors Championship which, now sponsored by insurance specialists Staysure, will return to the London Club near Sevenoaks, Kent, in the first week of August.
Won last year by PGA Member Philip Golding, the 72-hole tournament will include the top 15 finishers in the Senior PGA Professional Championship at Foxhills.
Contested on the International Course, the event will be preceded by the final of the Staysure Trophy, the most recent addition to The PGA’s tournament schedule.
The competition, which was launched last year and involves a PGA Professional paired with a senior golfer aged 50 or more, proved a huge success.
As a result participation in the seven regional tournaments to qualify for a place in the final that carries a £7,500 first prize is expected to be even greater.
Staged at the same time but involving participants of a younger vintage, The Birdietime PGA Assistants Championship will be held some 200 or so miles north at Pleasington Golf Club near Blackburn, Lancashire.
The PGA in England’s North Region is based there and the 54-hole tournament will be contested by 120 PGA Assistants who have come through the seven regional qualifiers.
A week later across the Pennines, the competition that features PGA pros and an amateur partner, both aged 60 or more, the PGA Super 60s Championship, will be staged at Leeds Golf Centre.
A packed August also sees the staging of two of the PGA’s most keenly contested tournaments that are sponsored by two of its most loyal supporters.
The PGA Fourball Championship sponsored by Golfbreaks.com will be contested in Surrey at Farleigh Golf Club (pictured above) while the Asbri Golf Welsh National PGA Championship heads to the north of the country and makes a long overdue return to Conwy Golf Club.
Sid Mouland, whose six victories make him the most successful player in an event that was first played in 1904, won the tournament the last time it was staged on the Gwynedd course – a month or two after Bobby Moore had held the Jules Rimet trophy aloft at Wembley.
Talking of England - having made a successful return to the schedule in 2018 after an eight year hiatus, the English PGA Championship returns in July and features a fresh qualification criteria insomuch that the 15 leading players on each of the five English regional Order of Merits qualify automatically.
The PGA England and Wales Inter County Championship in October will also have a change of venue. After six years at The Belfry, either on the Brabazon or PGA National courses, it will be staged at neighbouring Sutton Coldfield Golf Club.
By contrast, the WPGA International Challenge, a part of the LET Access (LETAS) series, will be returning to Stoke by Nayland Golf, Hotel and Spa in Suffolk for the seventh year in succession.
Click here to view a full list of events in 2019.
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