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Amateur legend wins first pro title

Amateur legend wins first pro title

July 1st, 2010

BY MICHAEL EMONS

LEGENDARY amateur golfer Gary Wolstenholme has clinched his first ever professional title.

Wolstenholme, who turns 50 next month, won the latest PGA EuroPro tour event – The Stoke-By-Nayland Championship 2010 in Essex.

Awarded an MBE in 2007 for his services to golf, Wolstenholme won 218 caps for England, played in the Walker Cup six times and helped win the World Amateur Team Championship in 1998. He only turned professional in 2008 aged 48 and hopes this victory proves the springboard to more success.

“It feels great,” said a delighted Wolstenholme, who collects £10,000 after he finished four shots ahead of James Busby and Brendan McCarroll. “It still hasn’t sunk in but the really nice thing is that all the hard work has paid off. Although I’ve played well recently, I’ve not been scoring well so to go out there and have three decent rounds and win a tournament by four shows that work has paid off. Winning this tournament is certainly up there with the other things I’ve achieved. The fact I’ve achieved so much as an amateur doesn’t matter as in effect you’re back to square one as all of a sudden you’re playing for your living.”

“When you’re playing for money even if you’re not in contention you don’t give up. You have to make the cut and get the money. All the money and points that you get added to your Order of Merit total really makes a big difference.

“But it was important for me to prove to myself and other people that I’m still a good player.

“The EuroPro Tour is a good standard of play and the top ten or 20 are really good golfers.

“Although I’ve been knocking on the door in the last few weeks, it’s great to make the transition and win an event. Hopefully it’ll open some more doors for me.

“The Seniors Tour is my goal without any doubt. I’ll be going to their Tour School in November but there are only six cards there.

“There are a lot of good players so I will have to play really well if I’m going to get one of those six cards. It won’t be easy to get on to the Seniors Tour.”

Ireland’s Brendan McCarroll had the advantage going into the final day but picked a bad time to have his worst round of the tournament.

McCarroll was aiming for his first victory on the Tour but bogeys at the fourth, sixth and tenth cost him dearly.

However, his tied second place was still his best ever finish on the Tour, beating his previous effort of tied fourth at the Players Club in Bristol in July 2007.

Other high finishers included Graeme Clark, the 2007 Order of Merit Champion, and Daniel Perrett who both ended on eight-under, with South African Darryn Lloyd among those on seven-under.

Australian Daniel Gaunt still heads the 2010 Order of Merit despite not competing at Stoke-by-Nayland.

He could have been overtaken by Craig Lee, Ian Keenan, James Hepworth or Stuart Archibald but none of them finished in the top ten.

Lee and Keenan both finished in tied 12th on five-under, Hepworth came 33rd on evens, while Archibald finished in 43rd place at two-over.

Colchester-based Jamie Moul was the leader on the opening day in the event that was being staged at his home course.

At the start of the third day Moul was three shots off the lead but his hopes of winning evaporated when he hit five bogeys in his opening 13 holes, although he still did enough for a top ten finish.

Other local players included Bury St Edmunds’ Lawrence Dodd in tied 12th, Chelmsford duo Jack Clarke and Lloyd Kennedy, who came tied 38th and tied 44th respectively, while Craig Housden (Channels) ended 49th with Dave Thomas (Hanbury Manor and Braintree Golf) in 52nd.

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