Clevedon Golf Club’s Ashley Mansell completed his mission to win the PGA South West Order of Merit in the way he had begun it – with a victory, writes Adrian Milledge.
In doing so, the 28-year-old demonstrated how he has dominated the Marstons Brewery-sponsored series from start to finish.
Having won the first two tournaments and finished sixth in the third, he was effectively home and hosed before a ball was despatched in the final one at the Point at Polzeath, Cornwall.
His points advantage at the head of the Order of Merit was more chasm than cushion and only some inspired golf from his closest pursuers coupled with a catastrophic collapse would have ejected him from pole position.
Upavon Golf Club’s Dan Carter did his best to satisfy the first criterium: his six-under-par round of 66 proved the lowest in the tournament and resulted in him finishing tied second on three-under.
And Mother Nature weighed in with a malevolent cocktail of wind and rain to make life difficult.
Not that Mansell, in terms of scoring, appeared affected. Having begun the second and final round three shots adrift of overnight leader Paul Hendriksen on one-under, he served notice of his intentions with three birdies on the bounce at the fourth, fifth and sixth holes.
A bogey at nine checked his progress but, with Hendriksen imploding with double bogeys at 10 and 11 and Carter’s challenge blighted by his three-over-par first round, Mansell held his nerve and kept his game together. Not that doing so was straightforward.
“It’s a very difficult scenario when you don’t really know what everyone else is doing,” he said.
“I was just trying to plod my way round the golf course and make as few mistakes as possible.
“That was made more difficult by the wind. And it became even more difficult coming into the back nine because of the rain. That was very heavy over the last four holes. So if you can make birdies on days like this it’s a bonus.”
In terms of winning the tournament, a birdie at the par-five 17th proved a real bonus and ensured Mansell posted a three-under-par round of 69 to finish on four-under for 36-holes and a shot clear of Carter and Toby Hunt.
As for the Order of Merit, Mansell’s victory extended his lead and he finished 280 points clear of St Mellons Golf Club’s Hunt to win it for the second time in three years.
As a result he has qualified for the end of season PGA Play-Offs in Antalya, Turkey, in late November.
The event is contested by the three leading pros from each of the PGA’s seven regions and Mansell will be joined by Hunt and Dudsbury Golf Club’s Lee Thompson who finished third in the Order of Merit.
They will compete for the £3,500 first prize and, failing that, a top four finish that earns entry into the 2020 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.