Brilliant finish helps Ellis to victory
Weston Park's Ian Ellis played two dazzling holes to clinch a dramatic victory in the latest PGA East Region order of merit event. He eagled the 18th at Bush Hill Park to force himself into a three-way play-off which included Neil Lythgoe of Royal Norwich.
Weston Park's Ian Ellis played two dazzling holes to clinch a dramatic victory in the latest PGA East Region order of merit event.
He eagled the 18th at Bush Hill Park to force himself into a three-way play-off which included Neil Lythgoe of Royal Norwich. Then Ellis birdied the first extra hole to claim his second order of merit success of the season and the seventh of his career.
The 34-year-old Norfolk player is now well clear of his nearest rival in the table, former European Tour player Mark Davis of Thorndon Park - and there's only one event left to play.
“I am absolutely ecstatic,” said Ellis. “It feels all the more special because I thought I'd lost it - and then everything changed so rapidly.”
Ellis, assisted by caddy Darren Cossey, looked to be coasting to victory. He started his second round with five threes and was 10 under par after the 11th, thanks to two chip-ins and some smart putting. Then he lost a ball at the 12th with a wayward three-wood which cost him a double bogey and brought him back to the pack.
Another shot went at the short 16th which Ellis bogeyed to drop back to seven under. At the same time, he learned that Lythgoe was 10-under with two to play, having birdied the 13th, 14th and 15th.
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However, Lythgoe dropped a shot at the 17th and Ellis scored an eagle three on the 18th, where his four-iron finished about 10ft from the hole. Also on nine under and in the play-off was Paul Hetherington of Great Hadham.
Ellis wasted no time in clinching the title with a birdie on the 390-yard first extra hole.
“It was a really strange day. I was going so well, then there was the disappointment of thinking I wasn't going to win - and then within 20 minutes I had made an eagle to get in the play-off and a birdie to win,” he said.
A couple of weeks ago Ellis had looked an unlikely candidate for golfing victory. He'd injured his back lifting a battery and could barely walk. Sessions at Park Physiotherapy at Weston Park, followed up by exercises, saved the day.
“I had physiotherapy and acupuncture and within three days I was hitting golf balls. It was incredible,” said Ellis.
Now, his aim is to go out and win the final order of merit event of the season, the Motorclean Golf Classic at Stock Brook Country Club in mid-August.
131: Ian Ellis (Weston Park) 65 66, Neil Lythgoe (Royal Norwich) 66 65, Paul Hetherington (Great Hadham) 65 66. (Ellis won at first extra hole).
132: Darren Charlton (Dunstable Downs) 68 64, Adam Connaughton (Stanmore) 63 69.
133: Neil Wichelow (Crews Hill) 68 65, Daniel Field (East Herts) 68 65.
134: Kevin Lunt (Great Hadham) 68 66, Stuart Brown (Orton Meadows) 67 67.
135: Ian Ashenden (Toot Hill) 70 65, Jonathan Fryatt (Thorpe Hall) 68 67, Finbarr Madden (Verulam) 68 67.
139 (26th equal): Paul Mayoh (King's Lynn) 71 68
140: Mitch Kierstenson (Searle's Leisure Resort) 72 68
147: Andrew Collison (Bungay and Waveney Valley) 76 71
Retired: Gary Potter (Mattishall).