Surrey side up for South Africa’s Els

Surrey side up for South Africa’s Els


Nico Els justified making the long journey from Surrey to Bristol by winning the PGA Open Series South West Open.

However, the South African from Clandon Regis Golf Club had to go the extra mile to claim the £3,000 first prize by defeating James Ruth in a play-off.

Both players completed the two rounds at Bristol Golf Club in one-under par totals of 139 to go head-to-head on the par-four 18th hole to determine the winner.

Having traded pars on the first negotiation, the odds favoured Els (above) on the second after his opponent from China Fleet Golf and Country Club, Cornwall, found a fairway bunker with his tee shot.

Showing the skill that has earned him a place in the Great Britain and Ireland 2022 PGA Cup team, Ruth made light of the apparent setback by firing his approach to within 20 feet of its target.

Els’ response ended half that distance away and the 49-year-old delivered the coup de grace after Ruth’s birdie putt frustratingly stayed above ground (above).

“Although the putt was uphill, it was a bit of a sitter for me,” he reflected. “But well done to James. He fought really hard and it was a good win for me, especially given the conditions.

“It’s a lovely golf course but the wind made it tricky. It affected the ball quite a lot so I’m delighted to win.”

Ruth, who earned £2,000 and finished a clear of Snainton Golf Centre’s Alex Belt, was the highest placed player from PGA South West region and now leads its Order of Merit.

Tenby Golf Club’s Matt Moseley and Richard O’Hanlon of St Kew Golf Club lie second and third respectively after sharing fourth place with Hadden Hill’s Ian Campbell.

That for O’Hanlon represents a remarkable recovery as he was five-over par after nine holes of round one.

Meanwhile, James Hannan of Bath Golf Club had good cause to claim the shot of the tournament when he had a hole in one at the par-three 14th on day two.

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