James Ablett (Lee-on-the-Solent) shot an impressive 11-under-par total of 133* over two rounds in the latest Virgin Atlantic PGA South Order of Merit tournament at Kingswood to win the PGA Surrey Open Championship by three shots.
Ablett has been in top gear this season with 10 wins so far, and his victory at Kingswood has earned him another winner’s cheque, this time for £2,000. Trailing in the leftie star’s wake was James Sharp (Waterhall) on 136, taking second place and a cheque for £1,500. A final ‘what could have been’ round of seven-under-par 65 from the defending champion Chris Gane leapfrogged him up the leaderboard into a tie with Russell Buxton (Hassocks) for third spot and £900 each.
Ablett opened with a 67, but it took an eagle at the fifth to get things going, as he explained, “I’d birdied the first and given it straight back at the next hole, but the eagle gave me a boost and more birdies came at the eighth and ninth to reach four-under. Two more at the 11th and 12th improved my prospects even more, but a bogey at the 14th and pars on the rest left me on 67 in second spot behind James (Sharp) at the halfway point.”
The second round inspired even lower scoring, especially from defending champion Chris Gane (LeftHandedGolf@silvermere) whose first round had been an uninspiring one-over-par 73 to make the cut on the mark. On the final Friday his front nine comprised two pars and seven birdies to reach six-under for the tournament. Bogeying the 10th, Gane made another five birdies to reach -11 for the round with two holes to go, but a bogey followed by a triple bogey finish ended Gane’s run, albeit with the satisfaction of a new course record round the James Braid layout.
After his first round of 66, Sharp was right in the zone as well, notching up four birdies and an eagle despite a bogey at the sixth to reach -11 at the turn to lead the championship. He bogeyed the par five 11th but bounced back with a birdie at the 13th, and then undid all the good work by making a bogey at the 15th and a double at the last to finish on 70 for second place on 136.
With all the fireworks going on in front, Ablett was calmly getting on with the job in hand, and despite a bogey on the short third, was out in 33 and eight-under-par for the tournament. Three more birdies at the 13th, 15th and 18th ensured a card of 65 and his first PGA South Order of Merit victory since 2007.
With three events to go, Ablett’s now in top place for the Virgin Atlantic PGA South Order of Merit**, and with ten victories to date is leading The PGA in England (South) Money List*** as well. A delighted James commented, “This is my best season so far. I’ve found a putter I really like, the swing is in a good place, Kingswood was in great condition and even the weather played fair for once!”
The next event in the Virgin Atlantic PGA South Order of Merit is the PGA Kent Open Championship on August 17th and 18th at Prince’s GC in Sandwich.