Ryan Fitzgerald ends average year with a flourish

Ryan Fitzgerald ends average year with a flourish

23/09/2021

Cuckfield Golf Centre’s Ryan Fitzgerald overcame some high-quality challengers at Paultons Golf Centre, Romsey, to claim the final CK Facilities Management PGA South Order of Merit event of the season.

The PGA Southern Open Championship, run in conjunction with PGA South West, included a host of accomplished professionals, including some former European Tour players, with golfers from both regions competing for a piece of the £20,000 prize fund.

After two rounds of 65, it was Fitzgerald who claimed a total of £3,000 for first prize, with his two six-under-par rounds good enough for a one-shot victory over Richings Park Golf Club’s Chris Rodgers.

Speaking after the event, Fitzgerald put his success down to his red-hot putting: “Today was really good. I putted well all week on the greens, which were immaculate. I had 21 putts yesterday and only 28 today so that is always going to help,” said Fitzgerald.

With this victory, Fitzgerald finishes just outside the top-10 of the CK Facilities Management PGA South Order of Merit, with Pine Ridge Golf Centre’s Lewis Atkinson claiming the top spot, some 13 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Guy Woodman.

After the first-round cut, which saw over 47 players make it through to the second day on a very respectable two-under-par, it was Elliot Bradley (Cotswolds Club) who set the early pace, with a course record 63 putting him just one shot ahead.

But, barely 24 hours later, before the overnight leaders had even finished their morning breakfast, Rodgers went one shot better.

Teeing off in the very first group of the day, he put the Paultons layout to the sword. The 45-year-old, who has one top-10 finish this season, recorded six birdies and an eagle in an eight-under-par front nine.

Despite a bogey at the 16th, a birdie at the last secured a course record 62, and an 11-under-par total that fired him to the top of the leaderboard.

Fitzgerald, who was out two hours after Rodgers, also started well, with four birdies and a bogey over the front nine putting him to nine-under-par.

He followed it up with four birdies in his first seven holes on the back nine to go level with Rochester & Cobham Golf Club’s Zak Morgan. However, Morgan would double bogey the 16th and 17th to drop well out of contention.

That left Fitzgerald on his own at the top of the leaderboard and, despite a bogey at the 17th setting up a nervy finish, he would par the last to sit one shot ahead of clubhouse leader Rodgers.

“I didn’t look at the leaderboard all day until the 18th hole to find out what I needed to do. I knew that Chris had gone to 11-under, and I had a fair few holes to play so I didn’t check the leaderboard till after the bogey at 17.

“The 18th is a driveable par-4 so I knew if I needed to, I could have forced the issue, but I played it sensibly in the end.

“Before the last two days, this year has been very, very average at best. I had kind of written this year off, but it’s always nice to finish with a decent result.”

CLICK HERE to view a full set of scores from the PGA Southern Open Championship.

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