31 Aug 17
Steve Willis will take a trip down memory lane after helping Richmond Golf Club to the SkyCaddie PGA Pro-Captain Challenge final.
Richmond Golf Club captain Willis partnered PGA professional Bradley Rowntree for the qualifying event which was held at Rudding Park Golf Club.
The pair carded an 11 under par round to finish on 47 points at the Harrogate venue. But it was a tense finish as they tied at the top of the leaderboard with Darren Leng and Steve Hunter of Skipsea’s Far Grange Golf Club.
The Richmond pairing triumphed on countback thanks to an impressive back nine which saw Willis collect a crucial nett eagle on the 18th hole which proved to be the winning putt.
Rowntree and Willis will now head to Morocco for the £22,000 final, in association with Golfplan, which will be held between November 21-22 at Mazagan Beach Resort, Casablanca.
And that brought back memories of Willis’ younger days: “I haven’t been to Morocco since 1972 when I drove down there with two mates in a beaten mini-van after leaving University - and we got back,” he said.
“We slept in a tent in Marrakesh, I’m looking forward to going back with hopefully a bit more luxury this time.”
Willis, aged 66 and playing off a handicap of 13, admitted they recovered from a shaky start to finish strongly.
“All the way through we worked well, we just had one bad hole at the second, then it was one of us putting for par, the other for the birdie,” said the retired event organiser.
“I’ve been a member at Richmond for 11 years, it was the first time I’d joined a club. My wife and myself both decided to play and she's the lady captain this year - and she’s offered to caddy for us in Morocco.”
Former EuroPro Tour player Rowntree has only been Head Professional at Richmond for two years after spending the previous four as Assistant.
“We were seven under on the back nine and the captain holed out on the 18th so we won on countback, he’s quite deadly with a putter, but credit to Steve, he played fantastically,” he said.
“The back nine is what won it for us, but we didn’t realise it at first. I knew it was going to be close.
“We knew we were going quite well, but the 18th hole was vital. This’ll be my first time in the final.”
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