Cox triumphs at first PGA Open Series event Marriott Worsley Park

Cox triumphs at first PGA Open Series event Marriott Worsley Park


It’s been quite a few weeks for Blackwell Grange’s Aaron Cox as he captured the first of the PGA’s new Open Series at Marriott Worsley Park.

On a rainy and breezy day in the North West the Australian shot a brilliant seven-under 64 to win the Manchester Open as the North kicked off the first of the seven 36-hole tournaments.

A couple of weeks ago Cox picked up the Participation and Development Coach of the Year at the England Golf Awards for his outstanding efforts to encourage junior golf. At Worsley Park he enjoyed a day like no other, missing all five par 3s but still keeping a clean card and finishing with a big bang.

“I shot even par on Tuesday, I had five birdies and five bogeys and I had four three-putt bogeys on my front nine and I turned in three over. I missed four par putts from inside three feet so that wasn’t a great start and I had to birdie the last two holes to finish level,” Cox explained.

“I was tied 33rd at the start of the day and I was teeing off nearly two and a half hours ahead of the leaders and it was raining, breezy and overcast and I thought this is going to be a grind. I hit some balls on the range, didn’t have a putt on the practice putting green as it was under water and, after hitting a driver-4-iron to the 1st, my first putt of the day was a 35-footer across a green that had just been squeegeed.”

The key to Worsley Park is to get through the first six holes, half of which were playing into the wind, and Cox managed those in a couple under. I didn’t hit any of the par 3s, I hit every other green, but I got up and down every time and that really kept my momentum going. And at three of those five holes I managed to pick up a shot at the very next hole so those pars were crucial. The par 3s were lighters to keep my round going.”

Ireland’s Colm Moriarty was leading at six under when Cox arrived at the tough 15th but the combination of a driver-6-iron was good for a fourth birdie of the day. As he walked to the 16th green the leaders were putting on the 6th green so the plan was to keep the foot down on the downwind closing stretch.

Cox would par 16 before hitting a ’toey draw’ with the driver to the drivable 17th. Two putts from 20 feet sent him to the 18th green with a strong chance of tying for the lead.

“I was one behind and I hit my drive right out of the screws, The adrenaline was pumping and I left myself just on 200 yards on a 515-yard hole. I pulled my 4-iron left and off the green, pin high but about 35 feet away to a treacherous pin. My playing partner hit a putt from a similar line and de-greened it.

“My putt started two cups outside left and it’s gone up the hill, made one revolution to the left and it’s done a Tiger Woods at Augusta at 16 and gone in without even touching the flag! I’ve gone berserk and run around the 18th green in hysterics, my hands in the air and shouting ‘get in there!’ In the end I almost did two laps of the green like Happy Gilmore and I’ve shot a 64.”

Adjacent to these scenes is the 13th green where Moriarty was putting out. He would double the 15th, and birdie the last to take second, and Cox had secured the most unlikely of wins. Not that he was taking anything for granted until the last player was all done.

“I never took my balls and my tees out of my pocket, I hit balls in the nets twice and I was on the putting green as, in the back of my mind, I thought that someone would catch me. The series is a great new initiative as I was up against the cream of the crop from all around England. Under the conditions, the length of the course and being four shots behind, this was one of my best rounds as a professional and definitely the best round that I’ve had in England in the four and a half years that I’ve been here.”

And after a few hours’ sleep Cox is back at it, across the Pennines in a qualifier for the PGA Professional Championship at Huddersfield.

CLICK HERE to view a full list of scores from the Open Series event at Marriott Worsley Park.


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