11 Oct 18
The only way is Essex: (from left) James Scade, Brett Taylor and Jason Levermore with PGA captain John Heggarty.
Essex made a successful defence of the PGA in England and Wales Inter-County Championship at The Belfry to become the first team to win the tournament twice.
In doing so, they relied on the same line up of Jason Levermore, Brett Taylor and James Scade to claim the trophy and £4,000 first prize.
And the stage for their victoy, the PGA National course at the four time Ryder Cup venue, was also the same.
The manner of their triumph, however, was at odds with the way the tournament reached its conclusion 12 months ago.
There was no need for a tension-laden play-off this time as the seven-shot advantage they established in the first of the two rounds proved decisive.
The tournament was theirs to lose and although Nottinghamshire and Surrey both posted better scores in the second round than the winners-elect, retrieving the deficit proved beyond them.
With the best two scores from each trio counting, Nottinghamshire, inspired by another sub-par round from Lee Clarke (above) posted a two-under-par total to finish on one-over for the tournament.
That was matched by Surrey who were level par at the start of the day.
The Essex response of three-over-par was in sharp contrast with the high-octane golf they produced in the first round.
Once again, however, Levermore was their main man. His round of level par took his score for the tournament to five-under and, in tandem with Clarke, its best performing individual.
Meanwhile, Taylor (right) executed the shot of the tournament – a hole-in-one at the par three 11th.
Despatched by a seven-iron, the ball bounced once before landing in the hole for the 16th ace of Taylor’s career.
Reflecting on it, Taylor said: “I saw the ball go in and my playing partner said it was in before it went in.”
With Essex winning the event by five shots, the hole-in-one ensured their advantage remained healthy and any eleventh hour wobbles were avoided.
“It was the most important of the 16,” joked Levermore, his humour tinged with a degree of seriousness. “The wind made it tougher today – that played a big part.”
The Essex team should have comprised the top three from the county’s Order of Merit but Levermore was the only of the trio available to play.
As a result, Taylor and Scade stepped in for the absentees and the latter added: “We all get on well and are steady players.
“And because we were the same three as last year we really wanted to win again.”
Scores: Essex -4; Nottinghamshire, Surrey +1; Devon +4; Lancashire +14
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