Birdies down the last three holes set up Lea Cooper’s first regional victory of the season.
Lea Cooper (Tilgate Forest) shot a four-under-par 68* to win the Woodcote Park Pro-Am by two strokes, taking home the £900 first prize and the satisfaction of his first regional victory of the year.
Battling gusting winds and firm fast greens, Cooper made eight birdies, offset by four bogeys courtesy of three three putts and going through the back on one other green. As he explained later, “I missed some short-ish putts today, but I couldn’t have made a better finish down the last three holes.”
Cooper’s 68 pushed the 70s of his pursuers Ian Golding (Banstead), Paul Nessling (Cooden Beach), Chris Gane (Lefthanded Golf at Silvermere) and four time winner to date James Ablett (Lee-on-the-Solent) into a share of second place. Woodcote Park’s PGA Head Professional and European Senior Tour player Wraith Grant led his team to victory in the team event.
Reflecting the difficulties out on the course, Cooper’s front nine was a succession of birdies and bogeys that left him level par at the turn. Despite repeating the pattern of birdie bogey birdie on the 12th, 13th and 14th, he reached the tee of the par five 16th one-under-par and proceeded to unleash a superb birdie barrage that took him to four-under-par and the winning card of 68.
This was Lea’s first outing at Woodcote Park, but as he commented, “I was playing with three club members all off single figure handicaps, and they kept telling me how local stars Wraith Grant, Zane Scotland and James Heath played the holes, so I did my best to follow in their tracks!”
He continued, “The narrow and often tree-lined course was in unbelievably good condition, made more difficult by the strong gusting winds. I played really well, drove great but missed one or two very makeable putts. I was very pleased with my finish, making the two par fives in two shots, and hitting a seven iron to two feet at the 17th for another birdie.”
“This is turning into a good season for me, as I’ve got a new sponsor whose clients are playing with me in various Pro-Ams, so I’m playing more golf and getting more opportunities to compete, besides all the coaching at Tilgate Forest. I’ve had couple of county wins also, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can do in the next Virgin Atlantic PGA South Order of Merit tournament at East Sussex National