England (Midlands) Region
28 Jul 14
It turned out to be a very close run thing but Kedleston Park head pro and 2014 PGA Midlands captain Ian Walley claimed a one shot victory at the PGA Midland Masters on home soil.
In hot conditions, the fast running putting surfaces proved to be the decisive factor as birdies proved hard to come by.
Walley, who had predicted earlier in the week that his home course was likely to offer a stiffer examination on its 11th staging of the tournament, proved correct as only six players broke par after the 36 holes.
His two rounds were remarkably similar to each other, just one more birdie in his morning round of 69 than he had in his afternoon 70, and both of his two dropped shots in each round came at the same holes.
Walley wasn't alone in that respect, the closing hole played ferociously tough with no golfer managing a birdie in either round.
Despite his closing dropped shot, Walley's five-under-par total proved to be enough to edge out Andrew Willey (Bulwell Forest), who for the majority of the day was leading and looked like the likelier winner.
Willey actually got it to seven-under in during his first round but three consecutive dropped shots at the end left him settling for a 68.
However he was off to a flier again in round two with an eagle at the first but a number of bogeys left him needing a par at the final hole to force a play-off.
Once again though the 18th was to prove decisive, Willey bogeyed and settled for a share of second place with Kevin Crossland (Worksop) who had his best result of the season, also on four-under-par after a pair of 70s.
A consistent performance by Matthew Cort (Rothley Park) saw him to fourth place on three-under. Completing the six who broke par were Joe Smoothy (Forest of Arden) and Ian Lyner (The Leicestershire), both finishing one-under.
Walley was relieved at the close having been convinced coming up the last he needed a par to win.
“I left myself a really tricky 10 footer down the hill for a par which slipped by,” he said. “I thought at that time I needed to make it, but it turned out that a bogey was enough.”
“I putted really solidly, especially during the afternoon, made a lot inside six feet which was key and holed a good long one at 15, that was a vital up and down. I'm over the moon to win such a big event at my home course, it feels great.”
Walley jumped to the top of the season's Order of Merit standings following his victory and will be at Birstall this Friday for event number four, The Midland Open with both Willey and Christopher Evans (Wishaw) also attending and in contention for the overall title.
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