The Pro-Captain Challenge Grand Final Report

02 December 2016
The Pro-Captain Challenge Grand Final Report

Europe’s tallest roller coaster towers over the venue for the final of the PGA Pro-Captain Challenge but Kedleston Park’s route to victory had little in common with a white-knuckle ride.

Having begun the final round at Lumine Mediterranea Beach and Golf Community, Spain, with a three-shot lead, the Derbyshire club’s duo of PGA Professional Ian Walley and Richard Smith had doubled their advantage by the end of it.

It all added up to a two round return of 18-under-par in the Golfplan International Insurance sponsored competition and their closest pursuers trailing in their slipstream, scrapping for second place.

In the event that was occupied by Channels Golf Club pair Jason Levermore and Henry Appiah. They finished on 12-under, a shot clear of Shipley Golf Club’s Nathan Stead and Baxter Ireland.

Kedleston Park’s emphatic triumph means they join Little Aston in winning the trophy twice.

For Walley, however, victory at the resort on Spain’s Costa Daurada was a case of new partner, familiar outcome.

He has now been party to an unprecedented three triumphs in the event, twice when representing Kedleston Park, the other with Shirland, another Derbyshire club.

As to the secret of his success, Walley attributes that to being an accomplished mentor and advisor as opposed to any prowess as a player.

“I think I should probably be a caddy,” he said. “I’m a better caddy than I am a player. I tried to manage him round and obviously I’m not bad at it.

“We gelled perfectly and Richard did really well. It’s a great way for him to end his year as captain.”

In terms of finishing his term of office, Smith, who plays off 13, did so in some style.

Which, given that Channels had trimmed their advantage to two shots after negotiating the par three 14th hole, was just as well.

“We were hanging on a little bit halfway through,” admitted Walley. “Then the captain came to life on the 14th when we looked in trouble.”

Trouble indeed. Ian’s tee shot there was destined to sleep with the fishes in the pond guarding the green and Smith deposited his in a greenside bunker.

Making light of tricky lie, Smith splashed out to six feet and sank the putt for a nett birdie.

More followed at 15, 16 and 17 before Ian weighed in with his third of the round to complete a triumphant journey that had begun with victory in an unlikely location.

“We couldn’t make the nearest qualifiers at Enville and Northants County,” Ian explained. “The nearest we could get to was Kings Lynn. It was a two-and-a-half hour drive but it was well worth it.”