Pro-Captain Challenge final is a case of perfect timing for Lilly and Partridge

Pro-Captain Challenge final is a case of perfect timing for Lilly and Partridge


Simon Lilly goes into this week’s SkyCaddie Pro-Captain Challenge final buoyed by a timely but overdue upturn in form and a succession of serendipitous circumstances.

The popular competition is also supported by Asbri Golf and Prostate Cancer UK and Lilly’s participation alongside Wellingborough Golf Club captain Glyn Pepper in the final at Argentario Golf Resort in Italy represents a rare highlight in a disappointing season for the 46-year-old.

The form that saw him win the 2022 PGA Midland Region Order of Merit deserted him for the early months of the campaign.

He finished 14th in the PGA Play-Offs and missed the cut in the PGA Professional Championship.

However, winning a SkyCaddie Pro-Captain Challenge qualifier towards the end of June at Woodcote Park Golf Club in Surrey heralded a change of fortunes.

The pair’s victory was a narrow one, though. Furthermore, their participation both in entering the event and arriving at it was somewhat

“We won on countback due to a birdie at the par-five 18th hole,” Lilly explained.

“We’d also left it late to enter the competition. Glyn was keen to play in it but the head pro at Wellingborough was unavailable and the club had missed the two local qualifiers.

“So, I stepped in for the qualifier in Surrey, but we came close to missing that one as well – we arrived just half-an-hour before our tee time! Thankfully, it all worked out in the end.”

As did Lilly’s 11th hour decision to play in the PGA South West Region’s North Devon Links Festival earlier this month.

“I received an email from the PGA saying there was one team space available, so I asked the lads if they wanted to play, and they jumped at the chance,” recalled Lilly, who earned £1,600 for winning the 54-hole tournament.

“It turned out to be an excellent three days and, having had a rough year form-wise, especially in the first few months, it was great to get a win towards the end of the year. Hopefully, I can replicate that form in Italy – I’m really looking forward to playing there.”

While Lilly savours a return to form, David Partridge’s participation in the final marks the latest step in a journey that has seen him recover from a fractured spine that curtailed his career for eight years and, more recently, battle prostate cancer.

“I fractured my spine practising for a golf tournament 10 years ago,” Partridge explained. “I was in agony, and it took six to eight months for things to improve but not enough to play golf again. My consultant asked me if I had another career to fall back on and advised me to stop playing.”

Partridge retrained as a freelance sports photographer and worked for Getty, Rex Features and British Cycling. The onset of Covid and subsequent lockdowns meant the work dried up but worse was to follow when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The 53-year-old underwent a prostatectomy and has since returned to golf as head pro at Cricket St Thomas Golf Club in Somerset. His initial plan to was to concentrate on coaching and administration but the lure of playing proved irresistible and he is back on the course.

Having played in the Senior PGA Professional Championship and missed out on qualifying for the Senior Open by a couple of shots, Partridge and his partner, Cricket St Thomas captain Mark Ward, recorded an emphatic victory in the SkyCaddie Pro-Captain Challenge qualifier at Taunton and Pickeridge Golf Club.

“We racked up 48 points and finished five clear of the field,” Partridge said. “It could have been more as I missed two six-foot putts – one for an eagle, the other for as birdie.

“Hopefully we can take that form into the final. But whatever happens, after the 10 years I’ve had, I’m just delighted to be here and able to compete. It’s something I didn’t dare dream about or think possible during those dark days.”

Each of the 10 pairs vying for a slice of the £22,000 prize fund will get to use SkyCaddie GPS as most players now do on the Legends Tour.

“SkyCaddie’s Alex and Georgia will be at Argentario giving out the latest SkyCaddie SX550s, pre-loaded with the day’s pins powered by our new SkyPins service,” said James Holmes, SkyCaddie Director of Sales and Operations EMEA.

“Many PGA tournaments are already using SkyPins, and this will expand further into the Association’s regional events in 2024.

“With SkyCaddie’s exclusive IntelliPath and IntelliGreen Pro, your decisions off the tee and on the fairway, including layups, are instant and easy!

“Unlike laser devices, the SkyCaddie SX550 GPS Tourbook has zero line-of-sight issues, and it is simply the best course management device golf has ever seen. I am certain that this year’s finalists will absolutely love using it!”

CLICK HERE to find out more about the 2023 SkyCaddie Pro-Captain Challenge.


Our Partners

  • Air IT
  • Banyan Tree
  • The Belfry
  • Coca-Cola
  • EVC
  • FootJoy
  • Gleneagles
  • PING
  • St. James's Place
  • Therabody
  • Titleist