PGA Assistant keeps seasoned campaigners at bay in Asbri Welsh PGA National Championship

PGA Assistant keeps seasoned campaigners at bay in Asbri Welsh PGA National Championship

16/09/2020

Richard James, a PGA Assistant who can hone his skills at one the most challenging links in Wales, found the tree-lined course at Cardiff Golf Club to his liking on the first day of the Asbri Welsh National PGA Championship.

The 29-year-old who is attached to Aberdovey Golf Club ended it a shot clear of the field vying to win a tournament that, first contested in 1904, numbers Ian Woosnam among its champions.

The former Masters winner prevailed at this venue in 1988 three years before his triumph at Augusta and several of his successors are within reach of James following his three-under-par round of 67.

Defending champion Mark Pilkington and his predecessor Toby Hunt are on one-under; Sion Bebb, who has won the tournament three times, most recently in 2017, is on level-par.

James Frazer, another PGA Assistant, is also on one-under while, thanks to a birdie on the par-three 18th, the closest challenger to the leader on two-under is Matthew Tottey.

James, a University of South Florida alumnus, also birdied the 18th but did so after committing the tactical error of depositing his ball on the ‘wrong’ side of the hole.

“The greens are in great condition and so is the course," he explained. "But they (the greens) are very quick so it's essential to be on the right side of the hole on the ones which slope.” 

Which is the case on the 18th. Fortunately for James his ball was just a couple of feet away from the pin but others with longer downhill putts who miscued, including Hunt, ended up three-putting and rueing a costly bogey.

Similarly accuracy was essential in negotiating the tight tree-lined fairways. As a result irons were the weapon of choice for many tee shots, although James’s driver came into play on the four par-fives.

“They were good opportunities to score and a chance to be aggressive,” added James, who recorded three of his six birdies at par fives but fell foul of the fourth, the longest hole on the course, the 506-yard 11th.

James will play in a three-ball with Hunt and Tottey as he bids to land two prizes: the £1,500 winner’s cheque and an additional £350 which, introduced this year, goes to the leading PGA Assistant.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he added. “They are good players and there are plenty of other good ones within reach of me. It should be fun.”

Full scores can be accessed here

 

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