01 Nov 17
As a son of Essex, Rob Coles makes no secret of his affection for his home county. The charms of Surrey, however, are becoming increasingly seductive for the 45-year-old. From a golfing standpoint that is.
Having been a member of Great Britain and Ireland’s victorious PGA Cup team at Foxhills in September, Coles found Walton Heath to his liking a month or so later in the PGA Play-Offs.
So much so that the former European Tour player’s three negotiations of the iconic venue’s Old Course resulted in a cumulative 17-under par total of 199, the first prize of £3,500 and a guaranteed place in next year’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Reflecting on his recent sorties across the Thames estuary, Coles said: “I’ve had a great month in Surrey – it’s been very good to me.
“I’m happy where I am but I wouldn’t mind taking some of Surrey’s golf courses home with me. It’s full of great ones and I’ve played a couple recently in Foxhills and here.
“This one is in incredible condition for November. To be putting on greens like the ones here at this time of year is unbelievable.
“That helped with the scoring being so good. You can’t shoot scores like that on bad greens and they were fantastic. All the guys have been raving about the course – with good reason.”
Similarly, Coles was not alone in posting impressive sub-par rounds, not least Scotland’s Paul O’Hara, the Titleist and FootJoy PGA Professional Championship winner.
He finished on 16-under, a shot adrift of Coles, which was the difference between the two at the start of the third and final round.
Come its mid-point, however, Coles had extended his advantage to four shots. Four holes later, he led by five and appeared home and hosed.
But as O’Hara proved in holding off compatriot Chris Currie to win the PGA’s flagship tournament at Ireland's Luttrellstown Castle in June, he is a tough competitor.
An eagle at 14 followed by successive birdies at 15 and 16 reduced the arrears to two.
And when Coles found a fairway bunker with his tee shot on 18 en route to a bogey he was relieved when O’Hara’s birdie putt to force a play-off failed to find its target.
Wentworth bound (from left): Paul O'Hara, Gavin Hay, Rob Coles and Richard Wallis
As a result both players posted six-under par rounds of 66 which, equalled by Adam Keogh in round three and Gavin Hay the previous day, were the best in tournament.
Inevitably, Coles’ delight at winning was matched by his relief .
“I was thinking to myself I’m playing OK here but I’m not getting away,” he added. “I did have a good lead at one point and then he went eagle, birdie, birdie – it’s difficult when people are doing that against you.
“He played superbly. I’m sure his day will come because he’s a very good player.”
O’Hara will get the chance to prove that to a bigger gallery at Wentworth in May, as will Richard Wallis and Hay, who came third and fourth respectively as a result of a sudden death play-off after finishing on nine-under.