FORMER European Tour player Garry Houston put his Harlech heartbreak behind him to win the Welsh National PGA Championship at Radyr.
Houston, who is contemplating a fresh tilt at re-joining European golf’s top table, defeated Stephen Dodd and Sion Bebb (Morlais Castle) on the second play-off hole during a dramatic end to the final day at the north Cardiff venue. His win comes only 12 months since he lost out to Dodd in a play-off at the culmination of last year’s event at Royal St David’s.
Dodd would have equalled Sid Mouland’s record of six Welsh National wins, incidentally, if he had won. But Houston showed nerves of steel to overcome both he and Bebb, the three of them friends from their time on Tour. They each tied on three-under-par after they could not be separated over two rounds in the Welsh capital.
And Houston looked dead and buried when his over-hit iron landed well beyond the green on the first play-off hole, before an expert chip to within a matter of inches kept him in contention. He then pounced on the second play-off hole with a perfectly measured putt to birdie in style and claim his first victory in one of Wales’ oldest golf tournaments, first staged in 1904 at Radyr, at the third attempt.
“It’s a great achievement to come here and win this tournament,” he enthused. “It’s something that you’ve gone and done in your life. You can turn around and say ‘I’ve won the Welsh National.’
“It’s always nerve-wracking to do it in a play-off but it is a nice way of winning – you’d sooner win it by seven or eight though!”
Houston admitted the experience he garnered from five years on Tour helped as he held off a congested leaderboard at Radyr. At the start of the second day only two shots separated the top eight. “I guess it did help a bit,” he said. “To be honest all I was thinking about was the fact that Sion was doing well, I just knew that I had to keep up with him.
“Nobody else really made a strong run at us and Sion started really well – I let him back in towards the end when I three-putted the 17th. “But it’s nice to come away having won it, especially after the disappointment of last year.”