Kedleston Park Golf Club amateur Ian Neal admitted home advantage helped him to qualify for The Lombard Trophy last week.
Neal teamed up with PGA Professional Ian Walley for the regional final at the local course, where the duo recorded a convincing four-shot victory. They will now play in the £43,600 grand final, which will be held at Gleneagles in Scotland - the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup - on September 3-4. Neal, a chartered accountant who is also club captain, and Walley, who only joined Kedleston Park this year, carded an eight-under-round of 64, beating Sleaford’s Nigel Pearce and Ian Batty into second place. The pair made a sensational start - including an eagle at the fifth hole - and were nine under par by the time they reached the ninth. For Walley, the result is the continuation of his recent good form in national finals which has seen him qualify for the last two PGA Pro-Captain Challenge finals including winning last year. A delighted Neal said: “I think there was a little bit of home advantage involved, we knew the course was playing a bit rough but the weather was perfect and it turned out to be a perfect day for us. As captain it means I’m getting two bites of the cherry as we’ll also be going for the Pro-Captain Challenge event.”
Walley meanwhile admitted he was getting used to making appearances in PGA finals. “This format of golf seems to suit me. You don’t have to be good all the way round,” he said.
“I’ve switched clubs this year so it was good to get a win and make it to another final but with Kedleston Park this time.
“We made a great start and although we stuttered a bit on the back nine our start was good enough and can’t wait to go and play at Gleneagles.”