27 Apr 19
The 13th ace of Simon Lilly’s career proved anything but unlucky in his quest to qualify for the final of the Titleist and Footjoy PGA Professional Championship at Hunstanton.
Coming at the final hole before the turn in the PGA Midland region’s qualifier at Little Aston, the ace not only revived his round but also lit the blue touch paper for a tournament-winning back nine.
Lilly was on one-over when he stood on the tee at the par-three ninth but the ace followed by three birdies on the way home resulted in him posting a four-under-par round of 68 to claim the £500 winner’s cheque.
More importantly, it ensured the pro from De Vere Staverton Estate, Northamptonshire, booked his place in the final which carries a £78,000 prize purse with £10,000 going to the winner.
Commenting on his round-reviving ace, Lilly said: “It was looking good when it left the tee, pitched on the green and ran in.
“I used a five-iron and saw it all the way. It’s the 13th hole-in-one I’ve had since I started playing golf but only four or five have been in tournaments.”
While aces have been relatively commonplace in the 42-year-old’s career his experience of the venue for the final on England’s east coast is limited.
“I played Hunstanton years ago but believe there have been a few changes since then,” he added. “I’ll have a practice round or two before the final.”
Lilly, however, was not alone in having an ace at the 192-yard ninth to celebrate. His achievement was emulated by Andrew Jones (right) of the Welcombe Hotel Spa and Golf, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Jones employed a five-iron for the shot that took him to four-under at the turn but, unlike Lilly, the ace did not fuel a birdie bonanza on the back nine.
A birdie at 12 was bookended by bogeys at 11 and 13 and Jones closed on three-under to tie for second place with Drayton Park’s Matthew Fieldsend, Simon Gabbitas of Hagley Golf Club and Kew Highway’s Richard O’Hanlon.
They will be joined in the final in the third week of June by: Cameron Hoggarth, Paul Bagshaw (Newark Golf Club), Cameron Clark (Moor Hall), Richard Reed (Glen Gorse), Phil Edwards (Coxmoor), Owen Evans (PT Golf), John Bandurak (Bloxwich Golf Club), Chris Freeman (Ladbrook Park), William Davies (Ramsdale Park), Andrew Cheese (Robert Rock Golf Academy), Stephen Bennett (Waltham Windmill Golf Club) and Michael Campbell (Kettering Golf Club) who secured the final qualifying place as a result of winning a four-man play-off at the second extra hole.
Full scores can be accessed via this link: https://pgagbi.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/pgagbi19/event/pgagbi19501/contest/1/leaderboard.htm