Order of Merit triumph turns into a walk in the park for Ruth

Order of Merit triumph turns into a walk in the park for Ruth

21/09/2022

James Ruth completed a memorable season by confirming his position at the top of PGA South West’s Order of Merit without having to swing a club in the last round of the final event.

Having missed the cut in the PGA Southern Open Championship at Paultons, Ruth was powerless to consolidate his position as leader.

Not that he needed to. The points he earned from his solitary round in the joint venture with PGA South coupled with the substantial lead he had established meant he could not be caught.

“I thought that was the position after the first round,” he said. “I did some calculations when I got home and was pretty sure I was safe.”

So, while his regional rivals battled to join him in next season’s PGA Play-Offs, the pro from China Fleet Golf & Country Club enjoyed a worry-free day off looking after his young son and walking their dog.

It also gave him time to reflect on a season that has exceeded his most optimistic expectations.

His campaign in the Order of Merit yielded two wins and a second place; an even more prestigious victory came in the English PGA Championship at Bowood; and, to top it all, the 37-year-old made his debut in the PGA Cup.

“That was an amazing experience,” he said. “I enjoyed it so much that playing in the match in two years’ time is a goal.

“Obviously it was disappointing to lose the match but representing Great Britain and Ireland is the pinnacle of my career to date.

“Winning the Order of Merit is a bonus and completes an amazing season. It’s been a dream really.”

Ruth will be joined in next April’s PGA Play-Offs by Tenby Golf Club’s Matt Moseley (above) and Mike Watson of Wessex Golf Centre.

Moseley, who was assured of a place in the top three whatever transpired at the Hampshire venue, looked on course to threaten the pacemakers when he was nine-under for the tournament at the turn.

An anti-climactic end of four successive bogeys, however, saw him slide down the leaderboard and finish tied 29th.

Watson’s finish, by contrast, was anything but an anti-climax. Watson (above) signed off with a birdie for a second successive five-under par round of 66 to complete the 36-holes a shot clear of Sion Bebb and Corey Sheppard as the PGA South West’s leading representative.

Furthermore, it ensured he pipped Ryan Pope for the final place in the PGA Play-Offs by just 22.50 points and, like Ruth, completed a season to remember.

“I was quite surprised to make the Play-Offs, I thought I was too old for that,” said the 54-year-old who finished tied 34th with Thomas Bjorn in July’s Senior Open at Gleneagles.

“I figured out I needed a birdie at the last and it went in. I’ve had a pretty solid season, especially senior-wise. Obviously, Gleneagles was the highlight, so there’s life in the old dog yet!”

Meanwhile Mike Bullen (above) reprised the form that resulted in back-to-back successes in the PGA Assistants’ Championship in 2019 and 2020 to claim the £2,500 first prize.

Bullen, who represents Ham Manor Golf Club, completed the two rounds in 15-under par to finish three shots clear of Bramshaw Golf Club’s Ryan Moody and Peter Appleyard of Sittingbourne Golf Centre.

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