V is for Vandenberg

V is for Vandenberg

01/07/2022

Michael Vandenberg fired six birdies and an eagle in his second round at Bishop’s Stortford Golf Club to land the East Region Championship in dramatic style.

Rochford Hundred’s head PGA professional was four shots off the lead at the halfway stage but secured a first-ever Order of Merit victory thanks to a stunning seven-under-par 64.

Vandenberg’s putter was red-hot as he drained an 80-foot putt for a three at the par-5 12th before holing again from long range for a timely two on the penultimate green.

There was still more work to do on the last hole after his approach came up around 50 feet short. Vandenberg’s lag putt left him six foot for his par but he showed an iron nerve in sending it to the bottom of the cup.

At a seven-under total of 135, Vandenberg then faced an anxious wait in the clubhouse as the final four groups finished behind him.

Michael Vandenberg in action

His closest pursuer was the overnight leader Jason Levermore, who at one stage also reached seven-under.

The six-time Order of Merit champion was still only a shot back playing the par-4 last and fizzed a short iron to 30 feet above the hole.

A birdie for Levermore would’ve resulted in a play-off – and he gave his putt every chance. But it caught the lip and stayed above ground, leaving Vandenberg victorious.

Vandenberg, 43, said: “It’s the biggest tournament win I’ve had.”

“I just hit the ball really well, to be honest. I kept it in play, took advantage of my opportunities and holed a couple of nice putts on the back nine. 

“It was fun. Obviously you’re going to feel a few nerves but I just accepted it and enjoyed what was happening. I’ve felt something good coming the last few weeks.”

Levermore (Little Channels Golf Centre) cut an animated figure on the 18th green, raising an arm as his putt seemingly rolled towards the cup.

He said: “I very rarely put my hand up. I don’t normally do those sort of things – It was just tracking the whole way. Then the last six inches it just moved right and lipped out.”

Fellow runner-up Chase Davis – who shot a fine second-round 66 – was also left ruing a near-miss.

Davis (Eaton), said: “I holed a few putts, which was good, and got it going early. I got a little bit under the cosh down the back, but it was alright. Coming down the back I just wanted to hit a good shot somewhere – I just couldn’t find one.”

The PGA in England, East's second Order of Merit event of 2022 will take place at Three Rivers Golf and Country Club on July 13-14.

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