TIM RICE claimed his second PGA EuroPro Tour title of the season by winning The Swallow Hotel Open at The Suffolk Golf & Country Club on Friday evening.
The £10,000 prize Rice claimed lifts him to second on the Tour’s Order of Merit, less than £2,000 behind Lee Slattery, who has won almost £32,000 this year.
For the 27 year-old from Limerick it was a case of beating the weather as well as the field as poor conditions meant the final two rounds were completed on the same day – and the winning putt was hit in near-darkness in Bury St. Edmunds.
Rice had hit nine birdies in his second round to take the lead and although he was unable to match that over his final 18 holes, a six-under-par round of 66 was enough to take him to 197 (19-under-par) for the tournament – two shots ahead of closest rival Mark Smith.
Smith, attached to Erewash Valley, paid the price for a two-shot penalty on the opening day, handed down after he carried one too many clubs to the first tee.
The title could have gone either way right up to the end with Rice bogeying the 16th and 17th holes as the pair went round together.
“I shot a 30 on the front nine and that kept me ahead but Mark was always breathing down my neck and I was more than happy to have a two-shot cushion at the last because I relaxed a bit too much, Rice said.
“I’m thrilled to win for a second time this year and it’s proving to be a successful season for me with four top four finishes.”
For his part, Smith, who took home £5,000, was left ruing his elementary error of carrying an extra club. “If only I hadn’t done that it could have been a different story but I’ve played great golf all week and it’s the best I’ve played all season, he said.
Third place went to Matthew Woods (Newbury Golf Centre) who shot a final round of 68 (four-under-par) to end on 201 (15-under-par) for the event.
A wild drive on 16 put Woods in trouble and he eventually triple bogeyed the hole to fall away from contention for first place, but his solid play overall proved enough to secure him £2,500.
|1||197||-19||Tim Rice (IRE)||Limerick||67||64||66||10,000|
|2||199||-17||Mark Smith (ENG)||Erewash Valley||67||65||67||5,000|
|3||201||-15||Matthew Woods (ENG)||Newbury Golf Centre||68||65||68||2,500|
|4=||203||-13||Graham Rankin (SCO)||Drumpellier||69||67||67||1,662.50|
|Michael Hoey (IRE)||PSP||70||67||66|
|6=||205||-11||Michiel Bothma (SA)||Swallow Hotels||65||71||69||1,025|
|Padraig Dooley (IRE)||Cork Golf Club||68||71||66|
|Darren Charlton (ENG)||Tilsworth||71||67||67|
|Craig Goodfellow (ENG)||Eden||71||69||65|