06 Jul 16
Tenby, the club described as the birthplace of golf in Wales, has another claim to fame as the venue where Lydia Hall became the first lady to win the Welsh National PGA Championship.
But winning the PGA’s oldest tournament is not the only first Hall, a European Tour winner, achieved.
Even more noteworthy and historic is the fact that, by repelling the challenges of Matthew Tottey and Thomas Phillips to win the 36-hole event by a stroke, she has become the only female to experience victory in a PGA national tournament.
And she did so in some style. Her second round three-under-par 67 was the best of the tournament and gave her an overall total of two-under.
Furthermore she held her nerve in the closing stages of the Asbri Golf-sponsored event while her closest challengers faltered.
Phillips, who represents Hadley Wood Golf Club, Hertfordshire, three-putted the 16th and North Wales Golf Club’s Tottey spurned the chance of forcing a play-off when he missed a short putt on the 18th.
Hall by contrast, unfazed by a rare blip at the 15th, negotiated the last three holes in regulation.
She attributed that to her experiences on the Ladies European Tour, not least winning the ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters almost four years ago.
“The experience of nine years on Tour helped me massively,” she said. “I’ve been in this position on Tour – in the final group and leading. So I knew the kind of feeling I’d have, how to keep myself calm, to stay in the present and not think ahead.
“It was quite tight coming down the stretch and I knew I had to get to at least two, maybe three-under. I made a silly bogey on 15 but kept going over the last three holes, so I’m delighted.”
Hall also put her experience of many tussles with the scenic but always challenging course to good effect and added: “I know it very well and it’s a tough course. It can beat you up at times.
“I kept patient and was not too aggressive. But there are some holes on which you need to be aggressive. I’ve played this course for many, many years and kind of knew what the conditions would be like. Even so, you still get nervous in the final round – I missed a couple of short putts yesterday but made up for that today.”
Now, having held her nerve on the course to make PGA history, Hall faces a nervous wait for the outcome of exams that follow a change of direction in her golfing career.
She is attached to Hensol Golf Academy, Mid-Glamorgan, and has just completed her second year as a PGA Assistant.
“I get my year two results on Friday, so fingers crossed,” explained the 28-year-old whose father, Wayne, represented Wales at rugby union.
“Hopefully I can start my third and final year in October. I’m learning a lot and really enjoying it.
“I decided to join the PGA because our tour is growing and growing but we still haven’t got a tournament every single week yet. It gives me an opportunity to teach and I really enjoy that. It also gives me a balance in my life so I don’t have to think all about playing all the time.”
Hall, however, was not the only one savouring victory at Tenby – Peter Evans of Royal Porthcawl Golf Club was crowned the Senior Welsh National Champion after posting a two round total of eight-over-par.
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