23 Nov 18
Where to start? In short, there are few superlatives, if any, to do justice to the final day of the PGA Play-Offs at Antalya Golf Club.
It featured top class golf full of twists, turns and sub-plots that would tax the skills of the most imaginative Tales of the Unexpected scriptwriter, staged at the home of the PGA National, Turkey, on a course to match.
It was typified by Matt Cort, the overnight co-leader, posting a second successive five-under-par round of 66 and having to settle for the runner’s up berth three shots adrift of David Dixon (top and right).
That was the gap between Cort and Dixon at the turn after the former put the PGA Sultan course to the sword.
He posted six birdies on the front nine but, perhaps because of the ill-effects of a heavy cold, was unable to maintain his momentum.
What followed, however, was a case of Dixon snatching the prize from his grasp rather than his rival from Beedles Lake Golf Club in Leicestershire throwing it away.
Two shots behind after Cort bogeyed the par four 14th, Dixon signed off with a birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie salvo to post a 13-under-par total for the three rounds and claim the £3,500 first prize.
In addition, and like Cort, he has booked his place in next year’s Great Britain and Ireland PGA Cup team, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and the British Masters.
All of which came as much as a surprise as a relief for the former European Tour player who is attached to Enmore Park Golf Club in Somerset.
“I didn’t have any expectations for this week at all,” he admitted. “I went to the second stage of Tour School and played well. But I couldn’t hole any putts so I’ve lost all my categories and exemptions for the European and Challenge Tours.
“It meant I had nothing for next year apart from coming here to see if I could do any good and earn a couple of starts. I came out to enjoy a week’s golf before a long winter but came good in the end.
Near miss: Matthew Cort
“Corty got off to such an unbelievable start, I felt I was playing for second place. So I aimed to just keep hitting good shots because you never know what can happen.
“Finishing like that is the stuff of what dreams are made of. I’ve had good finishes before but considering what was on the line, it’s probably the best hour of golf in my life.”
Similarly surreal was Robert Coles (below), already named as one of Cameron Clark's vice captains for Great Britain and Ireland’s PGA Cup match against the USA next September, qualifying as a player by finishing third after beginning the day on two-over.
He, too, carded an eight-under-par round of 63 and signed off in style with an eagle, par, birdie finish.
It all added up to 54-hole total of six-under and a sudden death play-off with Scotland’s Paul O’Hara to determine who would join Dixon and Cort in the PGA Cup team.
In the event Cole did not have to complete the hole after O’Hara, unable to extricate his ball that was wedged under the lip of a fairway bunker, conceded.
“I was very fortunate to get through like that,” said Cole, who represents Maylands Golf and Country Club in Essex and is a former European Tour player.
“It was a tough week for me. I struggled through most of it and hit a lot of practice shots, worked hard, and finally got something better going yesterday. I took it to the course today and managed to keep it going.
Journey's end: Paul O'Hara
“I certainly didn’t think about making the team after the first two rounds. I wanted to post a good score for my own pride. It got better at the end, especially finishing off eagle, par, birdie.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in because I wasn’t expecting it. So I’m thrilled, really excited and surprised.”
Coles also qualifies for the BMW PGA Championship as a result of finishing third, as does O’Hara who is well-placed in the points table for a place in the PGA Cup team.