Greig Hutcheon proved the ace of clubs in Turkey after a superb five iron set up an eagle and victory in the Titleist PGA Play-Offs.
The Scot earned the PGA No.1 player accolade in a dramatic finale at Antalya Golf Club in which he edged out Rothley Park’s Matt Cort in a sudden death shootout at the third extra hole.
Both players had tied at nine-under-par for the 54-hole tournament just ahead of overnight leader Matt Ford but following pars on the first and second holes, Hutcheon delivered a perfect blow to six feet to secure the £15,000 title with his rival only able to make birdie in increasingly gusty conditions.
The Banchory pro’s spoils include a place in next year’s BMW PGA Championship and the Wales Open but he admitted he was close to missing out altogether after a dreadful run of 18 holes midway through the tournament.
“I’m really chuffed to win because although I played well today I feel the reason I won was the last 14 holes of the second round and the first four holes this morning where I played so badly and really struggled but still managed to cover those holes in just about level par,” said Hutcheon.
“My game had vanished and I had to say to myself you’re out of this and a spot at Wentworth unless you pull your finger out and then it was a momentum thing and I started to play a bit better.”
Hutcheon’s final round 67 was a veritable rollercoaster with three bogeys, including two on the first two holes, five birdies and an eagle.
His fifth and decisive birdie came at the 18th which he birdied for the third time this week to book his place in the play-off. It also erased for good the double bogey demon on the same hole last year which cost him an automatic PGA Cup place.
“It’s really a huge honour to be the PGA’s number one, I’m delighted to win it again and it caps off a really good season for me bar winning my singles in the PGA Cup,” added Hutcheon who also won the Tartan Tour and Scottish PGA Championship.
The players were forced to briefly leave the course for 40 minutes following a lightning strike and on resumption Ford saw his hopes go up in smoke with bogeys on 15 and 16. Despite a superb birdie on the last hole his 72 left him one place behind the joint leaders.
Meanwhile Cort holed a brilliant up and down on 18 to make the play-off and despite eventually losing out to Hutcheon was happy to book a return to Wentworth after missing out last year.
“I was head to head with Matt (Ford) for a lot of the time and thought it was between him and me,” said Cort.
“I played nicely all day but took too much club on 18 and was over the back of the green but managed to chip back on and holed a putt on the last which, given the circumstances, was probably one of the best putts of my life.
“I said all week finishing first or second would be a massive bonus but having played well all week it was a shame I couldn’t get to win.
“Now I’m just looking forward to enjoying some home time and giving my young son Charlie a squeeze because it’s the first time I’ve been away since he’s been born.”
Ford was left rueing a double bogey on the first and a bogey on 16 where he found the water on both occasions.
“They were a couple of poor shots but probably got punished more than they deserved,” he said. “I played great in the middle stretch including an eagle on seven and birdie on the last but left a few putts short.”
Ford can console himself with earning entry to next year’s BMW PGA Championship as can Ian Ellis (Costessey Park), Jason Levermore (Channels), Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf), Damian Mooney (Ballyliffin), Mark Hooper (Rayleight) and Chris Kelly (Cawder) with Liam Bond (Marriott St Pierre) defeating Adrian Ambler in a play-off for the final berth.
Titleist golf ball product and marketing manager, Jonathan Dowdell, said: “Titleist is delighted to be again sponsoring the PGA Play-Offs, it’s great to be able to see these players have a chance to secure tour starts and reflects how Titleist supports golf at all levels from professional tours to club pros through to elite amateurs.”
More information on the Titleist PGA Play-Offs can be found at http://www.pga.info/tournaments/national/pga-play-offs.aspx