No catching Hooper


0908East Mark Hooper Virgin At Classic

Mark Hooper has confirmed his place in the Titleist PGA Play-Offs in Turkey on November 23-25 after coasting to victory in the Virgin Atlantic Classic.

The Rayleigh Golf Range ace was never put under pressure at Stock Brook Country Club as he carved out a five shot victory with rounds of 67 and 68.

He was nine-under-par for the tournament which was the fifth of six Order of Merit events arranged this season.

Hooper had already won the Weston Homes/ Bishop’s Stortford Classic in June.

His domination of the region this year has been achieved despite a niggling back injury that has troubled him for almost a year.

Hooper said: “I used ice on my back before both rounds and went swimming to try to ease the problem. I have an appointment for another check-up with a specialist very soon.

“I am off on holiday in Portugal without golf clubs and hope that the rest will help ease the problem.

“I was given great help by my caddy, Lewis Atkinson, who is a Professional at Stock Brook and knows the greens so well.”

Hooper had six birdies on the second day which came in pairs. Those at the third and fourth eased the pressure as the closest rivals started to fall away. Two more at the ninth and 10th kept the momentum going while those at the 15th and 16th meant there could be no repeat of last year when he let a commanding position slip in the closing stages of the corresponding event.

“My four-iron to within five-feet of the pin at the 198-yard 15th was my best shot of the day," he said.

“I plan to play in the PGA East Anglian Championship at Rayleigh Country Club at the end of September which is very close to where I live.”

Jason Levermore, appointed as Head Professional at Channels Golf Club earlier this year, is being encouraged by his proprietors to continue to play tournament golf.

He shared joint second place with Rhys Piper of Hartswood as both finished on four-under-par. Piper had three successive birdies around the turn to lift him from 44th place in the Order of Merit.

Levermore, last year’s runaway winner of the East OOM, is poised for a top three finish this time around as the battle for the final two places for the Play-Offs in Turkey livens up.

Both Nick Pateman (Pinner Hill) and Barrie Trainor (Old Joe’s Golf Range), second and third before Stock Brook, finished well down the leader board.

It was frustrating for Pateman who missed the PGA Powerade final in his bid for success in the East Region.

There were 24 eagles over the two days. Matthew Cousens of Bushey Golf and Country Club and Paul Curry, former PGA European Tour and United States PGA Tour star, both had two. Curry lives most of the year in Florida.

Yas Demir, pictured above left, representative of Virgin Atlantic, Stock Brook club captain Paul Walsh (second left) and director of golf Craig Laurence attended the prize giving with John Smith (right) Secretary of The PGA in England (East).

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