More than 1,000 golfers will contest this year’s Lombard Trophy, Europe’s largest pro-am which culminates with an expenses paid trip to Portugal’s Algarve for the grand final in September. The final will once again be staged on the Championship course at the five-star Pestana Vila Sol Golf & Resort Hotel, Vilamoura, and will feature 14 pairs competing for the £12,000 first prize.
The finalists will be determined by 14 regional finals that start on June 5 in the Midlands at Little Aston and finish two months later on August 2 at Burnham & Berrow in Somerset. Other regional final venues include Walton Heath, home of the 1981 Ryder Cup, and Fulford in York, which staged no fewer than 23 European Tour events between 1967 and 1981.
Lombard, a leading finance company providing leasing and hire purchase products, is supporting the competition for a third successive year with a £41,450 prize fund.
The company is also backing the women’s version of the pro-am, the WPGA Lombard Trophy. This will be contested by six pairs at Pestana Vila Sol Golf & Resort Hotel at the same time as the men’s final.
Commenting on Lombard’s support, PGA chief executive Robert Maxfield said: “Lombard is a fantastic sponsor of the PGA National Pro-Am Championship and we’re delighted to have their support once again in 2018. This is a unique event insomuch that it offers PGA Professionals a rare opportunity to team up with an amateur partner and represent their club in a national event.
“The competition features 14 superb regional final venues and Pestana Vila Sol Golf & Resort Hotel will once again prove to be a spectacular setting for this year’s finale. We look forward to this year’s tournament and I wish each and every competitor the best of luck.”
Ian Isaac, head of Lombard, added: “Lombard is proud to be continuing their sponsorship of Europe’s biggest pro-am event for another year. It’s great for us to be working with The PGA once again to offer amateur and professional golfers the opportunity to play some of the best courses across the UK and Ireland.
“Well over a million amateur golfers have participated in the Lombard Trophy over the years and we look forward to welcoming thousands more who wish to seize the chance to make their mark in 2018.”
Around 700 clubs entered the Lombard Trophy in 2017, with Hart Common duo Steve Parry and his amateur partner Andy Picton prevailing in a dramatic play-off to claim victory.
“From an amateur point of view you get to play at a great golf course during the qualifying round so it’s worth entering the Lombard Trophy just for that,” said Picton. “It’s a fantastic experience playing at Vila Sol as you’re walking up that 18th in a winning position because all of the players, from both the ladies and men’s events, are following you up the fairway. It feels like you’re playing in a major because you’ve got a gallery watching you.”
The WPGA Lombard Trophy enters its third year with two regional qualifying events at Camberley Heath in Surrey on June 11 and Cheshire’s Dunham Forest on July 23.
The top three teams from each qualify for the grand final, won last year by Kibworth duo Kym Larratt and amateur Trish Formoy.
“To have the opportunity of an all-expenses paid trip to Portugal was incredible,” said Larratt, a Ladies European Tour player. “It was a huge accomplishment and pleasure to be crowned winners.”
Formoy added: “Like all golf competitions, you have nothing to lose and as much chance of winning as anyone else, particularly in this format with a professional for a partner.
“Coming down the 18th when we had it in the bag, I couldn’t let myself believe it until the final putt; then it was phenomenal. When we got home, everyone was excited about the win. Every now and then telling yourself you have won a national tournament does give you a warm feeling.”
Entry packs will be arriving at golf clubs across the UK this month.
The PGA www.pga.info