Saturday, November 23, 2013



13Titleist Ford Rd1

Matt Ford shrugged off a bizarre ball theft to motor into contention alongside Matt Cort in the Titleist PGA Play-Offs at Antalya Golf Club in Turkey today.
The 35-year-old’s smooth progress in the first round on the PGA Sultan course, which had yielded four birdies up to that point, was interrupted by a crow lurking on the par five 16th which seized his ball from a bunker.
It meant the Kent player was required to drop a replacement which promptly plugged but he splashed out to save par before another gain on the last hole gave him a five-under-par 66 and share of the lead.
Former play-offs winner Greig Hutcheon (Banchory) is a stroke further back courtesy of a rousing finale in which he birdied four of the last six holes.
Hutcheon’s fellow Scot and PGA Cup team-mate Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf) and Yorkshire’s Adrian Ambler (Low Laithes) are just two off the pace after carding 68s in the 54-hole tournament which will see the top ten finishers earn a place in next year’s BMW PGA Championship and the first two a number of European and Challenge Tour starts.
Chris Kelly (Cawder) completed a great first day for the Scots trio in the select field of 24 by carding a 69 to be joint sixth.
Ford (CK Group) admits he is still driven to succeed at the highest level and enjoyed playing alongside former tour regular Stuart Little (Minchinhampton New) who fired an exquisite short iron to the last for a tap in birdie and round of 70.
“This is a great event for the PGA to have and is something for all the players in the regions to strive for,” said Ford who made 13 Challenge Tour starts this year.
“I still want to play full-time on the European Tour and the play-offs is a good opportunity if I can get those starts.
“I played with Stuart (Little) today who has played on tour with all the greats and I want some of those stories myself.”
Cort might have led outright but a wayward drive into trees on the 18th ended up costing the Rothley Park pro a bogey but overall he was happy with his efforts off the tee.
13Titleist Cort Trees News
** Click here for more great images from the first round at Antalya Golf Club.
The Midland ace has enjoyed a brilliant season in his region with three Order of Merit titles plus a third successive win in the PGA Assistants’ Championship.
His efforts this week, however, are focused on securing a place in next year’s flagship event at Wentworth.
“I’m playing good enough to win it but finishing top ten is number one priority because I finished 11th last year at the play-offs so missed the BMW PGA Championship.”
Hutcheon, himself coming off the back of a hugely successful season which netted him his national PGA championship, went someway to erasing a bad memory from 12 months ago when he had double-bogeyed the 18th to miss out on automatic selection for the PGA Cup.
“I got a bit of revenge on 18 with a closing birdie and put that demon from last year to bed which was nice and I played solidly," said the Scot who posted a 67.
“I just played one bad shot to 12 where there was a tough flag and I tried to cut a five iron, came off it and put it right of the green and didn’t get up and down.
“I played aggressively today and in some places I might have to play a little bit more sensibly.
“There is a long way to go and it’s a tough golf course but I would love to win because it’s a great honour to have the PGA No.1 player accolade.”
Another former play-offs winner Paul Streeter (Lincoln Golf Centre) is one of a trio at two under but defending champion Richard Wallis (Walmer and Kingsdown) faces an uphill battle to secure a third successive title after opening with a 75.
Par 71
66 Matt Ford (CK Group), Matt Cort (Rothley Park)
67 Greig Hutcheon (Banchory)
68 Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf), Adrian Ambler (Low Laithes)
69 Chris Kelly (Cawder), Paul Streeter (Lincoln), Mark Hooper (Reyleigh)
70 Stuart Little (Minchinhampton), John Kelly (St Margaret's Golf and Country Club)




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