Portelli lands maiden OOM win



Glen Portelli, the 22-year-old first year assistant at Verulam Golf Club, won the first Virgin Atlantic PGA in England (East) Order of Merit event of his fledgling professional career.

His two rounds of two-under-par 69 saw him to victory in the Weston Homes plc/East Herts Classic in the glorious parkland surroundings of Hamels Park.

Portelli (pictured above with trophy) was level par for the tournament with six holes to play before his game caught fire. He drove the green at the 345-yard par-four 13th hole and then sunk a 35-foot eagle putt. He had a birdie at the par-five14th and then chipped in from just off the green for another birdie at the par-three 15th.

He kept cool under pressure to par the final three holes.

Portelli beat experienced campaigner Mark Stokes of Rayleigh Golf Range by a single shot. Portelli, a Hertfordshire county amateur when at Brocket Hall, said: “The run of eagle, birdie, birdie in three holes lifted me back into contention although I did not know what any other players had scored. I simply love playing the East Herts course.”

Stokes started his second round at one-over-par but made a late charge with four birdies in his final eight holes.

Six players shared third place at two-under-par. Rounds of 71 and 69 kept Mark Hooper of Rayleigh Golf Range on top of the OOM with two events still to play.

Chris Smith of Fynn Valley, a former Suffolk PGA champion, looked a likely winner when he was five-under-par with three holes to play. He dropped a shot at the 16th but, like Portelli, was four-under on the last tee. He found the bunker just short of the green and ended with a costly double. Smith had six birdies, including four in five holes between the 10th and 14th holes which gave him every opportunity despite a double at the par four eighth.

Richard Webb (Tilsworth Golf Centre) and Chris Baron (West Essex) were poised to make a challenge midway through their rounds but both fell away in the closing stages. The others at two-under were Mark Talbott (Thorpe Hall) and Stuart Brown (Orton Meadows). Talbott, Stokes and Andrew Pestell (Chelmsford) all had four-under-par 67 in their second round.

First round pacemaker, Nick Pateman of Pinner Hill, saw his three shot advantage gradually slide away as putts were missed. There was a sad ending to his round when he lost his ball at the 17th after it flew into a cedar tree and, presumably, never came down.

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