24 Aug 17
Sion Bebb scratched an 11-year itch and held his nerve at Celtic Manor to win the Asbri Golf-sponsored Welsh National PGA Championship for the third time.
The pro from Morlais Castle previously won the event in 2005 and 2006 and it was perhaps appropriate his margin of victory over Toby Hunt and Matthew Dearden was three shots.
And while that suggests a comfortable win, the destiny of the £1,500 winner’s cheque was in doubt until the last couple of holes.
Having begun the second and final negotiation of the Roman Road course level with Hunt on five-under and a shot clear of Dearden, Bebb was unable to begin losing them until the par four 15th.
Hunt, who represents St Mellons Golf Club, was still level with Bebb at the turn but was effectively becalmed thereafter.
By contrast, Dearden, who is attached to the Vale Resort, was one adrift of the leaders after the front nine but then increased the pressure.
Four birdies, tempered by a solitary bogey over the next five holes, put him level with Bebb on eight-under for the tournament.
Parity, however, was temporary. Bebb responded with a birdie at the par four 15th and when Dearden bogeyed 16 and 17 the title was the former's to squander.
A birdie at the last for a second round four-under par of 66 suggests Bebb signed off with a flourish. In truth, his birdie was a triumph of clear-thinking and course management.
“I didn’t know what to take off the tee,” he admitted. “I had a two-shot lead and I was wary of taking a driver because I had come close to plugging my tee shot in the face of a bunker in the first round.
“So my plan was to avoid the bunkers and try to make par and not do anything stupid. I took an iron off the tee and had a great eight-iron from 180 yards to about seven or eight feet.
“I then had to cosy the ball in because the greens are like lightning. Luckily for me it went in. I’m chuffed to bits.”
Bebb described the greens as the best he had ever experienced at the course and his praise was echoed by Asbri Golf, sponsors of the tournament for the past five years.
“The quality of golf and the course has been awesome,” said Eryl Williams, Asbri Golf managing director (above, right). “It’s a fantastic course and it’s been a fantastic couple of days.
“It’s great to have all these Welsh pros in one place, especially as many of them have become friends over the years. It’s also been good to watch them sweat out on the course.”
Asbri Golf sales and marketing director Paul Williams (above left) also praised the venue and added: “The facilities here at Celtic Manor are superb and we’re fortunate in having a very good relationship with all the team and the staff.
“As we are with the pros and The PGA as an Official Supplier. Sponsoring this tournament is a case of giving something back to the Welsh pros. They’ve been the core of our business since we established it.
“We appreciate everything the pros and The PGA have done to help to grow our business.”
Eryl Williams also reflected on the absence of a familiar figure at the tournament, John Barnett, a former PGA captain and head professional at Royal St David’s Harlech, for more than 30 years.
Barnett passed away earlier this year and Eryl Williams added: “One person who isn’t here this year is John Barnett. He was a great customer of ours and a very good friend – he’s sorely missed.”
Meanwhile, Bebb was not the only one celebrating victory at Celtic Manor. Paul Mayo, who has won the tournament twice and represents Pontnewydd Golf Club, was crowned the Senior Welsh National Champion after posting a two round total of four-over par.