13 Jun 14
Comeback king Gareth Davies overturned a six-shot deficit to clinch victory in the prestigious Powerade PGA Assistants’ Championship at Coventry Golf Club.
The Abbeydale assistant PGA Professional, 36, from Sheffield showed plenty of steel as he birdied the final two holes of his last round for a five-under-par 68 to force a nail-biting play-off with first year Littlestone assistant Charles Wilson.
And the feat left the former European Tour pro in confident mood, as he calmly parred the first extra play-off hole (the 18th) after Wilson had found trouble off the tee.
Davies joins an illustrious list of former winners of the PGA’s oldest national tournament that includes Tony Jacklin, Peter Alliss and Barry Lane. His efforts earned him £5,000, an additional £1,000 from principal sponsor Powerade, a year’s worth of products and Glenmuir clothing.
He also secured entry to the Aussie Futures Tour and the Titleist PGA Play-Offs in Turkey– from which the top 10 finishers secure entry to the BMW PGA Championship.
Unable to capitalise on a dominating five-shot overnight lead, Jack Harrison (Wildwood) experienced a difficult final day, eventually carding a two-over-par round of 75 (11-under overall).
That left Davies, Wilson and Irish pro Neil O’Briain (Old Conna) with the chance to snatch victory.
“I was six shots back at the start of the day so it was in Jack’s hands. If he’d gone out today and played really well no-one would have caught him,” Davies explained.
“But it’s never easy when you’re leading. I didn’t think he would slip up but I just felt that I had to go out there and try to do well.
“I birdied the last two to make the play-off and until that point I pretty much thought I was out of it – I think that shows how important it is to stick in there and not give up.
“I missed a few chances on the back nine and I started to get a little bit frustrated. Then you just think to yourself ‘well it’s all or nothing now’ so I just went straight for the pin on the 17th, hit it close and got a birdie.
“Then on the 18th when I got up here I saw I had to make birdie to get in the play-off and sank a good 15 footer.
“Sometimes you just need that little bit of luck and I feel like I had it at the key moments today.”
** More great images here.
Afterwards Wilson, (above) who also carded a final round 68 in the 54-hole tournament, was upbeat and determined to take the positives from the experience.
“I was happy to get in the mix, it was the first serious competition I had played in for a while so I can’t complain,” he said.
"When it came to the play-off, I’ve hit driver off the 18th every time I’ve played it this week but blocked it. It’s one of those holes where the percentage shot is probably hitting iron off the tee but for three rounds the driver has stood me in good stead.
"I’m always one to attack so wasn’t going to sit back and try and cosy it in, I’d rather go for the win than sit back.
“It didn’t come off this time but hopefully in future it might.”
Overnight leader Harrison, who ended third having finished runner up last year, was left to reflect on a disappointing final round summed up by a costly double on the 12th when wrong club selection off the tee ended with him finding a bush with his second shot.
“That was where I went wrong and I just couldn’t swing it as well as the last couple of days," he said.
“But it's still a good week, it's disappointing obviously to finish the way I did but I played well the first two days. I just couldn’t find a swing today and the chipping wasn’t there."
Champion Davies is currently in the first year of The PGA’s degree programme, from which he hopes he will now be able to launch a career as a golf coach.
“I’m enjoying my training, obviously you need to put in a lot of hard work but I’ve enjoyed it so far and learnt a lot,” he reflected.
“I haven’t had time to play a lot of golf recently but when I have played I think I’ve played quite nicely.
“I want to focus on a career in coaching now though. I still want to play a bit because I enjoy it. Obviously things like today are a great buzz but that’s the route I see myself."
The Burnham and Berrow trainee finally joined the PGA this year after a lengthy attempt to establish himself in Europe
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