31 Aug 18
Best mates and each other’s best man, James Watts and Jack Winer proved they were simply the best in the Golfbreaks.com PGA Fourball Championship at Belton Woods by winning it.
But having led the chase for the £5,500 winner’s cheque after posting an opening 12-under-par round of 60, they were given an almighty scare confirming it while negotiating the tournament’s closing holes.
They had begun the third and final round a shot clear of West country duo Ryan Pope and William Nolan Farley. And with six shots covering almost half the 24 pairs that had made the cut, they knew their lead was fragile, especially given the event’s better ball format.
“We said at the start of the day that someone would come from the pack,” said Watts, who has just completed his first year as a PGA Assistant at Kingsway Golf Centre in Hertfordshire.
However, they did not anticipate that ‘someone’ would begin the day six shots behind them, post a tournament-best 13-under-par round of 59 and leave them needing a birdie at the final hole to force a play-off.
“I made the mistake about half way round of saying no-one was really pressing us,” admitted Winer who, attached to Abridge Golf and Country Club in Essex, has just completed his PGA training.
“Then all of a sudden we learn a pair were in the clubhouse on 27-under. We were five or six holes out at that stage.”
The pair in question comprised Adam Keogh of Spalding Golf Club and Glen Gorse Golf Club’s Michael Reed.
In a bogey-free round, Reed accounted for five birdies while his partner racked up seven plus an eagle at the par-five 18th.
Watts and Winer had eagled the hole in rounds one and two but were unable to follow suit in round three and had to settle for a birdie, so both pairs returned to the 18th tee for the sudden death play-off.
At 486 yards in length, the hole was a fertile source of eagles. Sixteen were recorded there during the tournament but none during the first negotiation of it in the play-off.
Then Keogh, chipping from the fringe behind the hole, came within an inch of one before Winer (right), on the green in two, held his nerve to hole from 14 foot to secure victory.
Reflecting on their success, Winer said: “The key was keeping the ball in play and we both putted reasonably well.
“We dovetailed nicely and didn’t do anything stupid. When one of us got into trouble the other bailed him out.”
Which clearly typified a relationship that goes back many years. So much so that, as well as being best men on Belton Woods Lake Course, they have been or will be each other’s best man off it.
“He was my best man in April and I’m best man at his wedding in June,” said Watts.
“We’ve been friends for a long time so it’s nice to come out and do the business together," added his partner.
Leading scores: Jack Winer (Abridge Golf and Country Club) and James Watts (Kingsway Golf Centre)*, Adam Keogh (Spalding Golf Club) and Michael Reed (Glen Gorse Golf Club) -27; Lee Clarke (Beeston Fields Golf Club) and Jack Lynch, Ryan Pope (Exeter Golf & Country Club and William Nolan Farley (Bovey Castle), Michael Watson (Wessex Golf Centre) and Richard O’Hanlon (St Kew Golf Club) -24.
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