Robert Steele won The Pandora 2010 Open at Burhill Golf Club in Surrey on the first play-off hole against Sean Doherty to win the second event on the 2010 PGA EuroPro Tour.
In 2008 Steele (Kenilworth/Forest of Arden) clinched a top five place and a spot on the Challenge Tour after winning the Tour Championship at Les Bordes in France, but circumstances beyond his control saw him endure a tough 2009 in golf. Much of his frustration came out in an eight under par 64 in the second round to take a two-shot lead into the final round, and while Doherty threw away victory with a bogey-bogey finish, the 26 year-old winner believes the win is a fresh start in his career.
â€œAfter Les Bordes I had six months without competitive golf and then I picked up a stomach infection in Kenya,â€ said Steele, who picks up Â£10,000 for the win. â€œI also wasn’t getting a lot of chances to play so all in all it was a really frustrating year in my career.
â€œIt’s great to have a win early season and I’m just pleased that I have turned a corner and things are definitely looking a lot brighter â€“ I’ve got a monkey off my back so to speak. I wasn’t really getting the chance to better myself but now I feel I have momentum and I’ve got my eye on getting into that top five again.â€
Level par opening and closing rounds meant his eight under par second round was the one that counted, but on a course in such terrific condition, low scores were always a possibility. Doherty (Bury GC) began the day at five under par but shot into real contention immediately with a birdie-birdie start. A third birdie at the fifth moved him to eight under par and two further birdies saw him move to ten under through 16.
Meanwhile, Steele was finding the fluency of Thursday tougher to come by as he followed each of his three birdies in his final round with a bogey to move through his first 15 holes at level par.
â€œIt was always going to be tough to follow a 64 but I didn’t play as well as I did on the first two rounds,â€ said the Stratford-upon-Avon based golfer. â€œI tried to play conservative golf at the start of the round today and I settled with a birdie at the fifth but a flier at ten set me back a bit, responded straight away. I took a cheeky peek at the leaderboard after bogeying 15 and noticed I was behind but Sean came back to me. I suppose I was a bit lucky but you have to take advantage and I did just that.â€
Dohertyâ€™s bogey-bogey finish meant the pair went down the par-three 18th again in a play-off, and Doherty replicated his three-putt in regulation tournament action to bogey the hole again meaning Steeleâ€™s solid par was enough for the win to put him on track for a strong showing.
â€œI was glad to get in a play-off really as Sean had passed me and I thought I had to make a couple of birdies on the way in,â€ said Steele. â€œI needed a two-putt on the last from 65 foot after fatting a five and I nearly holed it but I made a good three there to get the play-off and again on the same hole to eventually win it.
â€œI was in the top ten several times in 2008 but just didnâ€™t manage to get into the top three â€“ but now I have a very strong block to build on towards my top five goal,â€ said Steele.
Scotsman Craig Lee (Aspire Golf Centre) claimed third spot two shots behind Steele and Doherty at six under par, reward for a second round 66 and a final round of 70, which couldâ€™ve been different had it not been for bogeys at the first and last holes.
Five players tied for fourth spot at five under par. Robert Watkins shot the lowest score of the lowest score of the day with eight birdies in his five-under par 67 to head the group. Gary King (Tyrrells Wood) began with an eagle and two birdies in his first five holes but three bogeys in his round of 69 meant he joined King on five under, where Martin Sell (Wrag Barn GC â€“ 71), Jamie Little (www.events4golf.co.uk â€“ 73) and Alex Belt (73) also finished.
The next event on the 2010 PGA EuroPro Tour takes place at Castle Dargan in Sligo from Wednesday June 2.
The full leader board from The Pandora 2010 Open at Burhill GC can be viewed by clicking on the Score Updates link.