Nessling and Wallis back in the old routine

Nessling and Wallis back in the old routine

24/07/2020

Paul Nessling and Richard Wallis found themselves in familiar surroundings after negotiating alien territory in unfamiliar circumstances in the NHS London Open 2020 – at the top of the leaderboard.

The pair, who are based in the PGA South region, racked up 39 Stableford points in the fundraising event for the NHS at the West Essex Golf Club, Chingford, to make their sortie across the Thames estuary worthwhile.

Each took home £1,000-plus as a result of finishing tied-first, two points clear of the 92-strong field vying for a share of the enhanced £9,350 prize fund on offer in an event supported by The PGA. The biggest winner, however, was the NHS.

The tournament is an annual event organised by the PGA’s South and East regions and the £10,000* raised from this year’s will go to the NHS as a ‘thank you’ for its efforts in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

By contrast, practical as opposed to medical efforts to combat COVID-19 were to the fore in what was the first PGA-approved action for many of the competitors following lockdown.

Although the biggest winner was the NHS, the PGA Professionals benefited in competing for a share of the enhanced £9,350 prize fund on the day, which was supported by The PGA.

The changing of shoes in the car park, a no-no at many clubs, was mandatory; players were requested to arrive no earlier than half-an-hour before their tee times; a maximum of two were allowed on the practice putting green at any one time; the flagstick remained in situ on every green; and scoring was effected via The PGA’s tournament app on mobile phones.

“It was a bit surreal scoring on your phone,” said Wallis, a member of the 2019 Great Britain and Ireland PGA Cup team who is attached to Canterbury Golf Club.

“You notice the difference when you turn up and leave,” added Nessling, who has recently joined Sedlescombe Golf Club in East Sussex. “But out on the course I didn’t notice the difference.”

In that respect it was business as usual for both players, not least on the greens.

“I putted well and felt I just couldn’t miss,” said Nessling, the reigning PGA South Order of Merit champion.

“My long game was OK as well. The pin positions were challenging and the greens were fast – playing tournament golf under those conditions when you hadn’t played for a while made it tough for everyone. Everyone was finding their feet so I’m pleased with how it went.”

Wallis, a five-time winner of the Order of Merit who recorded eight birdies in his round, concurred: “The pin positions were tough. Even so I putted well and my game was solid.

“I just had a terrible finish. I missed all the last four greens and bogeyed three of them. But It’s good to be back playing, that’s the important thing.”

While the top prize headed South, the ones for the leading senior and PGA trainee in the event remained in the East.

Chris Baron, the head PGA Professional at West Essex Golf Club, capitalised on local knowledge to be the leading senior in the event by posting a level-par score of 36 points.

That left him tied-sixth, a point adrift of Romford Golf Club’s Daniel Garner and James Watts of Kingsway Golf Centre, the leading PGA trainees who finished tied-third with Welwyn Garden City Golf Club’s James Ruebotham.

Leading scores: P Nessling (Sedlescombe Golf Club), R Wallis (Canterbury Golf Club) 39 points; D Garner (Romford Golf Club), James Ruebotham (Welwyn Garden City Golf Club), James Watts (Kingsway Golf Centre) 37 points; C Baron (West Essex Golf Club), L Kennedy (Chelmsford Golf Club) 36 points.

Full scores can be accessed here.

*It is still possible to donate to the fund. CLICK HERE to make a donation. Further information can be accessed by CLICKING HERE or by contacting James Levick, West Essex Golf Club secretary on sec@westessexgolfclub.co.uk

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