Beedles Lake pro Cort claims hard-fought PGA Playoffs victory to deny Coles, Hutcheon & McGrane
By ECG Newsdesk
Matt Cort made it third time lucky as he pulled off a sensational PGA Play-Offs victory to cap an emphatic season of success.
The Beedles Lake pro held off Robert Coles, as well as Greig Hutcheon and Damien McGrane, to win the season-ending championship at Saunton Golf Club and, afterwards, declared himself ‘thrilled’ with his week’s work.
“I have had a couple of seconds in this event so it’s fantastic to finally win it,” said the Midland Region Order of Merit winner. “This caps off a great season. It is great to finish it number one.”
Cort began the final round with a three-shot lead but soon saw that come under attack from the chasing pack.
McGrane and Coles produced sparkling first nines to tighten the screw, McGrane going out in five-under 31 and Maylands pro Coles in 32.
McGrane’s putter cooled after the turn but Coles was relentless and, in fact, held a three-shot lead over Cort as he stood on the 16th tee after reeling off seven birdies and just one bogey in his first 15 holes.
Cort, meanwhile, had slipped down the leaderboard after dropping successive shots at the 11th and 12th. The event hinged on three holes – 15 through 17 – when Cort tightened his grip on the trophy and Coles saw his challenge slip away.
Cort fired in a sensational eagle at 15 to pull himself back to -7 as Coles hit trouble with bogies at 16 and 17.
The eagle at 15 meant Cort could par the last three for a level-par 71 and a one-shot victory.
He later revealed how losing his lead actually helped him discover his best golf over the closing holes.
“When I bogied 11 and 12 and saw that Rob and Damien were having good days, that probably put me in a good position because then I was playing catch up a little bit,” he said.
“You have to change the way you play. You cannot play defensive anymore because you haven’t got the lead. After 12, I played really good.”
The pendulum swung in Cort’s favour on the par-5 15th which, due to the wind direction, was reachable in two.
“That was key for me,” he added. “I hit a 4-iron to the back of a two-tier green and got it to between 12 and 15 feet and holed it.
“By the time I got to the 17th, I knew it was between me and Colsey. It was pretty tight over the last few holes.”
As well as the £2,000 winner’s cheque, Cort has secured places in next season’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and the British Masters. He will also play in the PGA Cup side along with Coles and Hutcheon.
Victory at Saunton capped a stand-out season which also saw him top the PGA EuroPro Tour Order of Merit, guaranteeing him his Challenge Tour card.
“Scoring and ball striking-wise – this has been one of the most consistent years of my career,” he added. “That gives me confidence to go on for next year.”
Paul Lawrie Golf Centre pro Hutcheon followed up his final round 67 by snatching the last PGA Cup place from McGrane with a birdie on the first play-off hole decider.
Hutcheon said: “I was pleased to have a good score at the finish because I have squandered a lot of shots out there this week.
“It hasn’t been a great scoring week but I have battled hard.”