Thornton, O’Hara and Hunt qualify for PGA Cup after Play-Offs success

Thornton, O’Hara and Hunt qualify for PGA Cup after Play-Offs success


PGA National Cyprus certainly put the PGA Play-Offs competitors to the test during three days of challenging play at Aphrodite Hills Resort with blustery conditions, lightning-fast greens and high emotions combining to create a thrilling finale.

With DP World Tour and Challenge Tour exemptions up for grabs during the week, as well as PGA Cup spots for fully qualified PGA Professionals, the stakes were high and the players keen to seize the opportunities available.

After being tied for the lead on day one, Simon Thornton (Spa Golf Club) kept his cool to remain in with a chance throughout the remainder of the tournament, but it was the tough final day where only one of the field managed to shoot under par, that meant his earlier low scores proved vital to secure the win with a final score of 4-under-par (66, 69, 74).

Thornton gains three DP World Tour and three Challenge Tour exemptions thanks to his win whilst the 2024 edition will also make it back-to-back PGA Cups for the Irishman: “I've played a lot of tour golf over the years but to get that chance now - my little boy is 12 and he's just coming through the game so for him and my daughter to see me play would be pretty special. It's all exciting - I’m going home as a winner so I'm delighted and I loved the last PGA Cup - it was one of the best weeks of my golfing career without a shadow of a doubt.”

I loved the last PGA Cup - it was one of the best weeks of my golfing career without a shadow of a doubt.


Paul O’Hara (North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd) played in his first PGA Cup in Texas in 2019, and qualifies for the 2024 team as well as earning one DP World Tour and two Challenge Tour exemptions with his second place finish in Cyprus: “I've been playing a little bit in America and I've been doing pretty well so far, so to have the DP World Tour and Challenge Tour spots is amazing. The PGA Cup is a great event, it was fantastic the last time I played - I don't know how we didn't win the last time to be honest, but I think this time we've got a really good chance, we've got so many good players. It's an exciting year, I'm going to try and make the most of it!”

Toby Hunt (Whitchurch Golf Club) was tied with Daniel Brown (Sene Valley Golf Club) as the next placed competitor eligible for the third and last available PGA Cup team spot, with a short birdie putt on the first hole at PGA National Cyprus securing the Welshman a spot in the 2024 Great Britain and Ireland team: “I started horrendous today, managed to start hitting some golf shots around the middle part of the round and made a couple of birdies - I didn't actually know until I hit a shot into the last - then my girlfriend said that there's a chance - and then the play off couldn't have gone any better - I knocked it into about 12 inches, so probably the easiest three I'm ever going to make and it was nice to do that at the perfect time really.”

Daniel Whitby-Smith (Drayton Park Golf Club) was the only player to shoot under par on the final day of the tournament (69) but earlier rounds of 75 and 76 meant he missed out on a PGA Cup spot by just one shot.

2024 PGA Cup Captain, Tim Rouse, and his Vice Captain, Graham Walker, were on site observing the players throughout the week.

Rouse said: “It’s been great to see all the players - not just the ones who’ve made the team but the ones who may make the team later in the year as well. It’s nice to see their games and how they interact, especially as we have foursomes and fourballs pairings to think about.”

Speaking on the first three additions to the 2024 PGA Cup team, Rouse added: “Simon is a great character as well as a great player and his experience will be really valuable to the team. Paul has been really courageous in his golf this week - he appears to not back away from anything - he’ll bring a great strength to the team. Toby hit a fantastic shot to win the play off and claim his place in the team - he’s a strong player and strong character, so I’m looking forward to having him on the team.”

PGA Professionals taking part in the PGA Professional Championship at Conwy Golf Club (11-14 June) will have the opportunity to claim one of six further PGA Cup spots to take on the PGA of America in Oregon in September.

For the full PGA Play-Offs leaderboard, CLICK HERE.

To see photos from the tournament, CLICK HERE.


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