14 May 19
Billy Hemstock (above), Bertie Chambers and Jordan Loft set the standard at Farleigh Golf Club where close on 100 PGA Assistants embarked on a route that once led to fame and fortune for golfing legends Tony Jacklin and Peter Alliss.
Both two-time major winner Jacklin and Alliss, the Voice of Golf, won the PGA Assistants' Championship at the start of their stellar careers – the former doing so just four years prior to being crowned Open champion in 1969.
Now 50 years later and following the PGA South region’s qualifier at the Surrey course, 32 are still in with a chance of winning the prestigious tournament.
All qualified for the 54-hole final at Pleasington, Lancashire, in late July and early August which, sponsored by Birdietime, carries a £32,000 prize fund with £5,000 going to the winner.
Seven shots spanned the qualifiers with Chambers, who is attached to Betchworth Park Golf Club, Roehampton Club’s Hemstock, and Loft of Prince’s Golf Club, finishing at the head of the pack after posting two-under-par rounds of 70.
Loft, who served notice of his intentions with a birdie at the par-four first, looked set to have the winner’s enclosure to himself until he lost momentum midway on the back nine.
His three-under-par score at the turn became six-under after birdies at 11, 12, and 13 but a double bogey at 15 followed by successive bogeys at 16 and 17 saw his lead evaporate.
Hemstock, by contrast, gate-crashed pole position thanks to atoning for a bogey at 17 with a birdie at the last while Chambers followed up reaching the turn in level par with two birdies and no blips on the back nine to complete the trio.
Meanwhile, Adam Reid and Christopher Croucher, who finished tied third on four-under in last year’s final at Farleigh, the former equalling the course record in the final round, were among those who qualified.