Pay day for the two campaigners as West Hill proves a match for Ryder Cup star
Despite the presence of a Ryder Cup star, West Berkshire’s Paul Simpson and Pyecombe’s Mark James both overcame swirling winds and a tough heathland challenge, shooting rounds of one-under-par 68* to tie for victory in the West Hill Pro-Am.
However, while a long week at Erin Hills for the US Open may well have explained why Ryder Cup and European Tour star Matt Fitzpatrick was unable to repeat his 2016 West Hill Pro-Am victory, it still underlined the profile of the West Hill Pro-Am and the man behind it, PGA Head Professional Guy Shoesmith.
Starting off the 10th, Simpson made this event his third win of the season so far, while James made it his second in five weeks. As one of the southern schedule’s top earning Pro-Ams, despite splitting the top prize both players took home cheques for £1,630 each.
Commenting afterwards, Simpson said: “West Hill was as ever in terrific condition, but strong winds gusting and swirling through the trees made club judgement less than straightforward. The greens are slopey and you’re constantly trying to get on the right side of the flag to make the putting easier.”
He continued: “My golf was pretty tidy but I didn’t think one-under would win, especially after three putting on my last hole, and with Matt Fitzpatrick behind me, so I was delighted to find I’d eventually tied with Mark for a nice big cheque!” “I’d also like to add a very big thank you from all of the PGA Professionals to West Hill’s Guy Shoesmith. He works hard to make this event a success, and does more than his fair share for the region as well.”
After eight holes Simpson was three-under-par, and although he bounced back from a bogey at the 18th with a birdie at the very next hole, two more dropped shots brought him back to a creditable 68, although the bogey at his final hole was to prove expensive.
Also off the 10th and later down the order, James opened with a bogey but got things back on course to one-under-par at the turn. Another birdie at the second was to put him in the lead, but a bogey at the sixth left him prospectively tied with Simpson, and with two tough par threes in his last three holes, one more birdie proved too elusive.
Recent winner Chris Gane (Left Handed Golf at Silvermere) continued his useful vein of form with an even par round of 68 for the runner’s up spot and a cool £950.