England (Midlands) Region
23 Sep 15
Matthew Cort fashioned golf befitting a champion and the occasion in winning the PGA Midlands Professionals' Championship at Shifnal to finish top of the Order of Merit.
In negotiating two rounds of the Shropshire course in 14-under-par he left a field that included two former Ryder Cup stars huffing and puffing in his slipstream.
David Gilford and Paul Broadhurst were among those resembling a hitch hiker’s futile attempt to thumb a lift on the last lap of a grand prix as Cort won the event by six strokes.
That golfing chasm which separated Cort from joint runners up Andrew Willey and Luke Towler was accounted for by rounds of 63 and 65.
However, the six stroke margin was just one in a treasure trove of statistics racked up by the PGA pro from Beedles Lake Golf Club, Leicestershire.
This was the third time in five years he had won what is the world’s oldest tournament for professionals; the victory also ensured he won the PGA in England (Midlands) Region’s Order of Merit for the third successive season.
In evaluating that hat-trick of triumphs, the latest one has to be the most satisfying for the quiet 41-year-old who prefers to let his golf do the talking.
Not least because he was diagnosed with type one Diabetes at the start of the year and there were times at Shifnal when the affliction came close to ambushing his victory march.
“I felt a bit light-headed early on and my blood sugar level was quite low,” he explained. “I manage my diet pretty well but I wasn’t able to have much of a breakfast because of where I stayed after Monday’s pro-am. So I was indebted to having a caddy to look after the bag for me.”
Cort had enlisted the help of Jamie Simpson, a member of Rothley Park, his former club and a regular partner in pro-ams.
“He did a great job and helped me keep going,” Cort added. “Having him on the bag took a lot of the pressure off me and I was able to concentrate on my game.”
Despite those health issues at the start of the first of his two rounds, Cort reached the turn in six-under. Two more birdies followed on the back nine to give him a four-stroke lead at the end of round one.
He appeared becalmed as the second round unfolded, however: a birdie at the second was erased by a bogey at the ninth and he remained at eight-under at the halfway stage.
By contrast, Willey (above) and Towler were turning up the heat and had reduced the deficit to one at the turn.
Thereafter, Cort moved into overdrive and posted four birdies and an eagle on the back nine to claim the £775 first prize and successfully defend his Order of Merit title for the second year in a row.
“It’s great to win it three times,” he said. “It’s been a good year and it’s nice to finish strongly.
“I played consistently in the three previous Order of Merit events and I like playing at Shifnal. The course was in great condition again and my score was one better than last year when I shot 13-under but lost to Paul Broadhurst in a play-off.”
Cort’s success in the Order of Merit has earned him a place in the end of season Titleist PGA Play-Offs in Turkey and he will be joined there by Jak Hamblett and Towler, who finished second and third respectively.
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