The Epsom Pro-Am has produced a dead heat between Robert Gowers (Alresford), Ben Cummings (Tylney Park) and Richard Neil-Jones (Hilden Park), with all three shooting a two-under-par 68* to take home a share of the winners’ spoils.
The downland course, first laid out in 1889 next to the iconic Derby venue, proved a good challenge to a strong field of southern stars, including the former and current Order of Merit champions, Richard Wallis (Canterbury) and Benn Barham (PGolfCoaching), and new The PGA in Surrey Championship winner Chris Gane (LeftHandedGolf@Silvermere), plus a string of winners in 2015.
As it happened, all three winners started at the 11th, each with varying fortunes. Neil-Jones parred the hole while Gowers made a birdie, but this was bested by Cummings making the best possible start with an eagle. While Neil-Jones then dropped a shot but made two birdies at the 15th and 16th, and Gowers’s birdie on the 12th was offset by a bogey on the 14th, Cummings went on a birdie charge through the 14th, 15th and 16th.
Five-under-par after six holes, Cummings looked the man to beat, but calamity struck on the first hole, his ninth, when he made an eight. One more birdie at the fourth and a string of pars got him home safely in 68.
One-under-par after the 18th, Neil-Jones’ fortunes improved with a birdie at the first, but a bogey at the third slipped him back to one-under. A birdie at the fifth repaired the damage and pars all the way home took him to 68 as well.
Gowers dropped back to even par with a bogey at the first, but birdies at the fourth and eighth took him back into pole position, albeit one shared with two other colleagues.
Chastened by the one hole disaster, Cummings was philosophical about the win that could have been, saying, “I missed five good birdie chances in the last six holes, but this particular hole was literally a one hole blip. I hit my first tee shot with a driver on the line I wanted, but as it was slightly out of sight, I opted to play another but pulled it, so I played one more on exactly the same line as the first drive.” He continued, “We found the third one on the fairway 40 yards from the green, and even though I was playing with the Head Greenkeeper, we never found the other two balls. Next time, I’ll play it a bit more conservatively! Still, I’ve only played here twice and so this makes it two wins out of two trips!”