Paul O’Hara wins golf tourney

Paul O'Hara with the winners trophy (Pic by Brian Stewart)
Paul O'Hara with the winners trophy (Pic by Brian Stewart)

Holytown’s Paul O’Hara held off rivals Graham Fox and Greig Hutcheon to win the £50,000 P&H Championship at The Renaissance Club.

The 29-year-old followed back-to-back 68s with a closing 74 in a testing wind in North Berwick before beating Clydeway Golf colleague Fox at the first hole in a sudden-death play-off.

“This is probably my second biggest win after the one I recorded on the EPD Tour (in Germany in 2011) with a 20-under-par total,” admitted O’Hara, who picked up a cheque for £5600 to add to the £1000 he’d secured as leading trainee after 36 holes.

After Fox, a member of last year’s PGA Cup-winning side in California, had set the clubhouse target following a best-of-the-day 68 that included four birdies, O’Hara came to the last needing a par 4 for victory.

But, after being a long way from the hole in two, he left his first putt 10 feet short then saw the next one hang on the edge of the cup.

“I waited my 10 seconds in the hope it would drop, but it wasn’t to be,” said O’Hara, who had managed to get that disappointment out of his system in the time for the title shoot-out.

Playing the first hole, the three-time Scottish Amateur Championship finalist almost holed his third shot from a greenside bunker before Fox missed with a 10-foot par attempt to keep it going.

“I’ve played solid over the past few days,” admitted O’Hara, who completed a clean sweep of events as he topped the Scottish Young Pros Order of Merit last year and is now off to a flying start in the Tartan Tour’s main points list this season.

“I’ve had a real hot spell since I started working with David Orr,” said O’Hara of the Eastwood-based PGA pro who finished 12 shots adrift of him in this event.

“He has pretty much changed everything, including my thought process on the course, and that has helped me to win eight or nine events.”

Both Fox and Hutcheon, who finished three shots behind the leading duo in third, headed straight off to catch flights down to London for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

It meant they were heading into the European Tour’s flagship tournament without a practice round but supporting the first big Tartan Tour event of the season had been their first priority.

“This is one of the best tournaments we have and it is played at a great course,” said Hutcheon after his first Order of Merit outing under the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre Inchmarlo banner.

“I don’t think Wentworth has changed from when I’ve missed the cut by a shot couple of times, so I still hope to go down there and give a good account of myself.”