England and Wales (South West) Region
14 Aug 19
Toby Hunt rediscovered the form in the PGA West Region Championships at The Players Club, Bristol, that had propelled him to victory in the 2018 Asbri PGA Welsh Championship
An eight-under-par round of 64 has put him four shots clear of the field with a round to play in the region’s third Marstons-sponsored Order of Merit event of the season.
Perhaps more importantly, given the PGA pro from St Mellons Golf Club, Cardiff, defends his title at Conwy next week, his renaissance after weeks of what he describes as ‘struggle’ in all aspects of his game was timely.
“My form over the last six weeks has been shocking to be honest,” he admitted.
“I’ve struggled to hit the ball off the tee. I’ve struggled with my putting and I’ve struggled mentally. A round like that today was out of nowhere and was very welcome.
Hunt put his improved form down to accuracy with his approach shots and, once on the green, a warm putter.
“I hit a lot of greens today - 17 of them, which is the best I’ve ever done in a tournament,” he added. “I’ve been struggling with my putting in the last few weeks but it was a lot better today.”
The 26-year-old served notice of what was to come with a birdie at the first hole. Three more followed on the front nine before an eagle at the par five 11th and another two birdies completed a bogey-free round.
It all added up to a four-shot advantage over the trio sharing second place: Asbri Golf’s Richard Dinsdale, Louis Bolton of Chippenham Golf Club and Tenby Golf Club’s Matt Moseley.
Two-shots further back on two-under lies runaway Order of Merit leader Clevedon Golf Club’s Ashley Mansell.
Given the likelihood of torrential rain inundating an already rain-affected course, that’s how things may stay if the second round cannot be completed.
However, as well as the first round scores standing, two other occurrences during it will live long in the memory – one for the individual involved, the other for all the players on the course and those associated with the venue.
Jack Hayward, a member of The Players Club who is attached to Stockwood Vale Golf Club, Bristol, recorded his first hole-in-one in a tournament at the 127-yard par-three ninth with a nine-iron.
It was executed just before 11am when play stopped and a minute’s silence was observed in memory of Gordon Brand Junior, the two-time Ryder Cup winner, former European Tour member and much-loved associate of The Players Club for 17 years who passed away earlier this month.