Chris Gill has a double reason to mark his 38th birthday last week after ghosting through the field to win a play-off against Michael Watson (Wessex Golf Centre) and claim the Dudsbury Masters on a spectacular day of scoring at the Bournemouth course.
It followed his success in qualifying for the Lombard Trophy for the first time a week earlier at Burnham and Berrow.
And it marks a change in fortunes for the Newquay club professional, a past PGA Cup player and Order of Merit winner, as it was his first OOM win since he triumphed in the Forest Classic six years ago
I’m chuffed as it’s nice to get back to competing after so long,” he said. “It was lovely just getting into contention so this win is something special. Club commitments mean I haven’t played or practiced a lot.
I felt a bit twitchy over the last few holes but it was great to get that feeling that I could win again.
But he did it the hard way in the Ringwood Brewery-sponsored event. An opening 68 left him three shots behind but on the second day he gradually plotted his way to six-under 65 with precision and accuracy to draw level with runaway clubhouse leader Watson.
The highlights were his wedge for an eagle two at the fourth, three birdies coming home and a superb up-and-down on the last to complete a faultless round and total nine-under 133.
Watson, who has been in brilliant form and recently won at Cotswold Edge and Moor Hall on successive days, produced a career-best nine-under-par 62 to leap into the lead following his level par opening day.
He led by three shots for a long time but eventually paid the penalty for a wayward tee-shot on the first play-off hole, the par five tenth. He blocked himself out, had to lay up and made five. Gill calmly two-putted from 30 feet for the winning birdie.
Watson’s remarkable round followed another 62 by home touring player Lee Thompson who made eagles at the tenth and 17th and five birdies. Watson made five birdies on the way out and four coming home.
They were the lowest rounds ever recorded on the course and bettered the record 64 carded by Welshman Sion Bebb 17 years ago. But, unfortunately, the lift-and-place rule following an overnight deluge on Thursday cost them a new record.
Several other players maintained the pressure although overnight leader Ashley Mansell (Clevedon) slipped to 13th after 73. “It was still a great learning experience”, he said.
Former PGA Cup captain Jon Bevan took third place with a birdie three at the last where home player Mark Wiggett missed a short putt to slip back to fourth alongside Thompson, Barry Austin (Downes Crediton 64), Stuart Little (Minchinhampton 66), Sion Bebb (Morlais Castle 66) and Kevin Harper (East Devon 69).
Ladies European Tour player Lydia Hall (Hensol Golf Academy) elected to play off the white tees rather than claim the 10 per cent advantage usually enjoyed by women.
After losing a play-off in the opening OOM event, the Total Triumph at Oake Manor, she again played with distinction and carded rounds of 69 and 68 to share tenth with Toby Hunt (St Mellons) and Paul Hendriksen (Ivybridge) on five-under 137.
Extract from The Professional Golfers Association (PGA) website
The full Dudsbury Masters (OOM2) results can be view here