Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wright beats O'Hara in play-off to take 

second Scottish title in three years

 Gareth Wright with the Scottish PGA championship trophy. Picture by Kenny Smith

From Nathaniel Sylvester 
Welshman Gareth Wright is the Scottish PGA champion for the second time in three years after winning the event's 100th staging in style at Gleneagles total.
The 34-year-old West Linton professional eagled the par-5 18th on the King's Course from six feet to beat Paul O'Hara in a play-off after the pair had tied on 16-under-par in the £50,000 M and H Logistics-sponsored event.
With closing 68s for 16-under-par 268 totals, Wright and O'Hara finished five shots clear of the field at the Perthshire venue, where Louis Gaughan birdied the last to tie for third place with Greig Hutcheon and Graham Fox after they'd both signed off with stirring 65s.
The victory in the Tartan Tour's flagship tournament earned Wright a £9,000 pay day while, in addition to a runners-up cheque for £6,500, O'Hara secured a place in next week's PGA Play-Offs in Devon along with Hutcheon and Fox.
Locked together at the start of the day, Wright and O'Hara fought out an enthralling ding-dong battle in the final round and came to the 72nd hole still sharing the lead.
It was advantage Wright after the pair had hit their approaches but 30-year-old O'Hara, who is based at Lochview Golf Centre in Coatbridge through an attachment to North Lanarkshire Leisure, got down in two putts from fully 120 feet to make a birdie, which his title rival matched.
"I expected Paul to make his six-footer as he'd putted well all day and is very good around the greens," admitted Wright afterwards.
Returning to the same hole for the play-off, O'Hara was a lot closer in two and made birdie once more despite racing his first putt six feet past, but Wright had hit a majestic 6-iron from 201 yards to six feet and rolled it in for a title-winning eagle.
"We both played really good golf all day," said the champion, who plays under the Welsh flag but lives in Edinburgh. "We didn't set the world on fire, but it was good, sensible golf and a good game between us.
"It's been a very strange year for me as I've been playing my golf in lots of different places. In fact, I've probably only played in four or five Tartan Tour events.
"But this is a nice cherry on top of the cake at the end of the year and I love it up here - Gleneagles is one of my favourite places in the world."
O'Hara, winner of both the P and H Championship and Scottish Young Professionals Championship earlier in the year, refused to be downbeat about being pipped for the top prize on this occasion.
"I've played solid over the four days and I'm pleased with my performance as I needed a good week to get into the PGA Play-Offs," he said, having secured a trip to Saunton by finishing in the top three in the "Road to Gleneagles".
Helped by his strong finish, Hutcheon claimed that Order of Merit title by a narrow margin from O'Hara, who'd already secured the Scottish Young Professionals' equivalent this season, and Fox in third place.
The trio now head to Devon, where the PGA Play-Offs start on Monday, with 10 spots up for grabs in next year's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth as well as three automatic places in the team that will defend the PGA Cup at Foxhills in Surrey next September.
Image of Gareth Wright courtesy of Kenny Smith



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