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England (East) Region

Order of Merit triumph for James

06 Sep 19

James Watts Trophy Webs

James Watts (Kingsway Golf Centre) secured his first Order of Merit title with victory in the East Region Championship at Bishop’s Stortford.

Watts, 31, made a birdie at the first play-off hole to edge out David Salisbury (Three Rivers Golf and Country Club) and Scott Hudson (Warren).

The trio finished 36 holes of regulation play on five-under-par and returned to the par-4 10th tee for ‘extra time’.

Hudson found the left-hand rough, while Salisbury sent his drive further right than ideal.

Watts was the last to play and crashed a powerful shot straight down the middle into ‘position A’, less than 50 yards from the flag.

Hudson’s hopes were dashed by a tree branch as he tried to send in a low pitch. Salisbury fared better clipping his approach to 14 feet beyond the pin.

But Watts had all the angles covered as his chip released perfectly, settling three feet from the flag.

With Hudson out, Salisbury gave his downhill putt every chance but it trickled just past the edge of the cup.

That left Watts with a golden chance to seize victory and he duly converted his short putt to continue a fine season.

Only the previous week he and his great pal Jack Winer (Abridge Golf and Country Club) had successfully defended their PGA Fourball Championship crown in Surrey.

Watts said: “I’m very happy to win my first Order of Merit tournament – it’s very nice to get one under the belt.

“I played nicely on the first day and pretty good in the second round without really capitalising on the back nine. Patience was the key.”

Of the two runners-up Salisbury was the more frustrated, having been six-under-par with one hole left to play. He found trouble off the tee on the 18th and saw his eventual par putt roll agonisingly across the front of the cup. 

Hudson had more positives to take away, having bagged his best-ever finish in an Order of Merit event.

Indeed the PGA trainee shot a superb five-under 66 on the second day to clinch his spot in the play-off.

Hudson, 24, said: “It was really nice to be up there in contention. I was actually really pleased with how I dealt with everything down the stretch.”

The final Order of Merit event – the KJW Millbroook Masters – will take place at The Millbrook on October 2-3. Watts’ win at Bishop’s Stortford meant that he has moved to the top of the overall standings, opening up a narrow lead from James Ruebotham (Welwyn Garden City).

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