PGA Assisatnt of the Year, Ben St.John Wins At Goodwood
Ben St John survived a late scare to notch a career high with victory in the inaugural Business Fort English PGA Championship at Golf At Goodwood.
The 30-year-old Surrey pro was cruising to victory in the £30,000 tournament with a three shot cushion going up the last but contrived to double-bogey it after finding trouble with his approach shot.
But after hacking out from the trees he chipped on and two putted to end with a level par 71 to win by a stroke and pocket the £5,000 first prize plus entry into next year's English Open on the European Tour.
Afterwards St John, who is a PGA pro at Woodcote Park, near Coulsdon, where he played his junior golf, admitted he was stunned by his achievement in what was his first PGA national event.
"It's totally unexpected but I'm really excited to be the first English PGA Champion," said St John whose younger brother Joe caddied for him.
Ireland-based, but Yorkshire-born Rob Giles from Greenore GC, ended second after setting the clubhouse target at three under par with a best of the day 68 while Derby's James Whatley (East Midlands) was third a stroke further back with a final round 71.
St John's escapade on the last was a rare hiccup in a seamless march to the title built over three solid displays on the difficult and testing Downs Course in which accurate driving was pivotal.
"The course was fabulous, it's a really tough driving course and I like to think I'm a good driver. That was the key, putting it in the right place on the fairways to attack the flag," added St John.
His closing 71 included birdies on five, 11 and 16 with a dropped shot on seven and a double bogey on the last but he identified his par putt on the 428-yard par four 15th as the key shot.
"It was a nasty five footer with a bit of swing down the hill but I managed to sink it and from there I just pressed for a birdie which I got at the next to get to six under," he said.
As it transpired he needed that three stroke advantage although St John appeared pretty relaxed about his predicament which saw him smash his second shot into some trees beside the 18th.
"I hit a cut off the tee and overdid it to end up on the face of the bunker. I was going to be sensible and lay up but it didn't seem too hard," he said.
"I had a word with my brother Joe who suggested trying to get it on the front edge with a four iron which in hindsight was probably the right call. When I got to the ball I could see the leaderboard and new I could miss the green and chip and two putt."
St John was out in the last group with Gary Marks (World of Golf) who endured an erratic round that began with a pulled shot and bogey on the first and would go on to include five birdies, two more bogeys and three double bogeys.
Marks finished in a share of fifth with Chris Sands (SkyCaddie) while Roger Tuddenham (Hedge End) holed a 10ft putt on the last to clinch outright fourth spot with a final round 72.
Also voted by the PGA as "Assistant of the year" - see link for full details.