Wales’ Garry Houston secured victory at the 2015 Mercedes-Benz International Pro-Am in association with Abu Dhabi Sports Council, after an epic play-off battle against fellow PGA of Great Britain & Ireland Professional, Alex Wrigley, ended on the fourth extra hole.
After both finishing at a three round total of -13 (200), Houston and Wrigley entered into a playoff on the 18th hole at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, UAE, that was halved in par fives three times, but ended with a birdie three for Houston ahead of Wrigley’s par four as they moved to the 16th hole.
Whilst Wrigley drove the green in one and Houston was just short, it was the latter that managed to convert his approach to a birdie to take the Championship.
“It was a bit like the hare and the tortoise coming up this par-five 18th,” explained Houston. “Alex has a lot more length than me but I knew where he left it would mean that he was going to have difficult shots to get it up-and-down for birdie, so as soon as we got off 18 onto 16 I knew I’d have a chance.
“My game plan for the week was to win really – it was a good field and the scoring was really good at the top, I wanted to play well and do the best I could.”
Wrigley [pictured left] led for the previous two rounds and whilst he missed out on the win there were plenty of positives to take from his performance:
“Like every week you’re trying to play your best and trying to win – my game’s been in decent shape for the last couple of weeks – I’ve been changing a few things over the winter and they’re obviously paying off.”
Houston began the day three shots behind overnight leader Wrigley but the Welshman made light work of the deficit with three birdies at in his opening six holes. A bogey at nine was also swiftly dealt with after two birdies at 11 and 12.
A further bogey at 13 dropped him back to ten-under, but a fantastic three birdies in his closing three holes for a six-under 65 propelled him to the a joint lead with Wrigley.
Wrigley’s final round began on a strong footing with early birdies on the front nine at holes three and five. A further birdie at 10 took him to -13, however things hit a speed bump at holes 14 and 15 as the Englishman made two consecutive bogeys to drop back to -11.
But two birdies at 16 and 18 got him back to a three-under 68 and a total of -13 where he led for most of the afternoon until he was caught by Houston.
Third place fell to the defending champion, Filip Mruzek (PGA of Czech Republic), who made a concerted effort to get himself to a second event victory, but his closing two-under par 69 wasn’t enough to boost him past a ten-under par (203) total.
The Team Pro-Am event was a close-run competition on the final day but it was the PGA of Great Britain & Ireland’s Jonathan Grogan and his team of Patrick Seigmund, Michael Gustke and Stefan Seifert [pictured right], that edged ahead by one for a points total of 263 (-47).
Tournament winner, Houston, and his amateur teammates, John Bailey, Gary Dewhurst and Dorian Hopkins, bettered Grogan’s third round total by a shot with 89 points (-17), however it wasn’t enough to go ahead leaving them with the second place team spot at 262 points (-46).
For final Individual Professional and Team Pro-Am scores visit http://eur.pe/2015MercInt.
To find out more about Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club visit www.aesgc.ae.