Top fives for Higgins and Thornton as Cort triumphs in playoff

Ronan MacNamara

David Higgins (Image by Irish Golfer)

Ronan MacNamara

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David Higgins and Simon Thornton both settled for a share of fifth place after a dramatic final day at the PGA Professsional Championship at Slaley Hall. 

Matthew Cort and Daniel Whitby-Smith were both tied for the lead after 72 holes but it was Cort who took the title and the £10,000 prize in a playoff after a three-under 69 saw him finish on six-under. 

Commenting on his victory, Cort said: “Winning this event is right up there at the top for me. I’ve done well in other PGA events and this ticks another one off. I’m thrilled to have won. It was just a grind out there. We had a good three days and then the weather came, it was pretty brutal to start off with but once we got into it wasn’t too bad. 

“The weather today kind of fits with my game. I’m happy just making pars and this was that kind of course where pars were just as good as birdies. It’s such a hard course and given the conditions, I think it played into my hands a little bit.” 

Higgins and Thornton finished four shots adrift on two-under after rounds of 75 and 73 respectively. 

Waterville’s Higgins teed off within three shots of the overnight lead and briefly held a share of top spot on six-under after a birdie on the par-3 5th. 

However, dropped shots on seven and nine saw him fall four adrift as he turned in 37. A back nine charge never materialised for the Cork native who carded bogeys on the 11th, 17th and 18th to come home in 38. 

Tulfarris pro Thornton was steady if not spectacular and made the turn with nine successive pars and his first move away from par was a negative one as he dropped a shot on the 10th. 

Thornton did respond with a birdie on the next hole but there was no late surge as he dropped a shot on the 18th to settle for fifth. 


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