Thorpe Wood professional Stuart Brown landed his second Order of Merit win after overcoming James Taverner (Hendon) in a thrilling PGA East Region Championship at Essendon Country Club yesterday (June 19).
The duo, playing together in the final group, fought out a titanic battle that went right to the wire over Essendon’s New Course.
Brown finally triumphed by two shots, signing for scores of 69 and 68 that left him at seven-under-par.
The pair had been level at six-under, after they both picked up a stroke against the card at the par-5 16th.
But Brown made a pressure-packed putt from eight feet for birdie at the 17th to edge ahead – and then Taverner pulled his tee-shot into a hazard at the last.
That allowed Brown to enjoy his walk up the 18th fairway before he closed out with a good ‘up and down’ from behind the green for a closing par.
Brown said: “Persistence pays off! It had got a little bit frustrating, having been in the last few groups at every tournament and not getting the job done, so it is nice to cross the winning line. I’m really pleased, to be honest.
“It is my second Order of Merit win – I won one in 2011 at Wanstead in a playoff. So, it’s been a few barren years, but it is nice to get the second one on the board. This gives you the confidence again to know you can do it.”
In the past two seasons, Brown has suffered the frustration of just missing out on the end of season play-offs in Turkey that offer the top-10 a passport to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
But with his fine win at Essendon and a solid showing earlier in the month at the Weston Homes Bishop’s Stortford Classic, he is the early pace-setter in this year’s race.
He added: “There are five more Order of Merit events to go. I’ll get stuck into them and try and get another one under my belt.”
Taverner had the lead for much of the final round but he lost his ball off the tee at the 14th and recorded a double bogey to hand the initiative to Brown.
But the Middlesex golfer dug in and bounced back with successive birdies. He hung tough with a great scrambled ‘save’ at the 17th but his race was run once he was forced to take a drop under penalty on the final hole.
PGA EAST REGION CHAMPIONSHIP AT ESSENDON CC (PGA in England East, Order of Merit) leading scores: 137: S Brown (Thorpe Wood) 69 68. 139: J Taverner (Hendon) 69 70. 140: J Mynott (St Ives) 71 69. 142: G Portelli (Verulam) 74 68. 144: I Ellis (Great Yarmouth & Caister) 71 73; J Ruebotham (Welwyn Garden City); D Salisbury (Three Rivers) 70 74.