David Higgins made a winning return to the PGA in Ireland schedule after his PGA Cup exploits with a flawless five-under 64 at the Fred Daly Memorial Pro-Am.
Higgins edged PGA Cup teammate Simon Thornton and four-time winner on the region Richard Kilpatrick by two shots in Balmoral Golf Club in Belfast.
The Waterville professional was the only player to go bogey-free on Thursday carding five birdies.
Higgins who has two Irish PGA Championship titles to his name eased to the turn with birdies on the second and seventh.
The Cork native birdied two of his next three holes with gains arriving on the 10th and 12th before a fifth birdie of the round on the par-5 16th saw him pull away from the field.
“I have been playing well the last month or so. The PGA Cup I played nicely and followed that up in Sutton so that was great to win today. It’s not an easy course to shoot that score so I’m delighted with it.
“It’s a tight golf course and when you don’t have many par fives it’s hard to make a score. I played well today and didn’t have any fives on the card so that’s always a good thing. Five-under and to win by a couple is a good way to finish the PGA season,” said Higgins who thoroughly enjoyed his PGA Cup experience Stateside.
“For any young pro it’s somewhere you should always aspire to be. It’s a fantastic week. Obviously we were disappointed with the result but the team aspect is different to what we are used to it was a special week and very enjoyable.”
Former European Tour winner Thornton put on the pressure but two early bogeys ultimately put paid to his chances.
Birdies on the 5th, 6th and eighth holes kickstarted his round and birdies on 16 and 18 saw him home 32 to share second with Kilpatrick who had an eventful round of 66.
The Banbridge man now has four wins and six second places and he continues to lead the way at the summit of the Order of Merit.
Sutton Matchplay champion Tim Rice was a shot further back on two-under after a 67 while Colm Moriarty, Brendan McGovern and Leslie Walker completed the under-par scoring with rounds of 68.
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