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Pilkington quick off the mark

By David Birtill

MARK Pilkington is determined to get his game back into shape after stepping down from 12 years competing in Europe.

And he was as good as his word when he defied a strong wind and rain to win his first event at regional level in the PGA North Assistants’ Championship of Lancashire at Bolton Old Links.

The former Welsh Amateur champion, who won the Kazakhstan Open in 2006 to top the Challenge Tour rankings having also spent six years on the main circuit, was the only player to beat par on the exposed moorland course.

His one-under 71 featured three birdies and a brace of bogeys as he finished three ahead of fellow Welshman Tim Dykes.

Bangor-born Pilkington, 38, is in his second season as a PGA trainee assistant under the guidance of his 36-year-old brother Stuart the head professional at Pwllheli Golf Club in North Wales where their dad John was a previous incumbent.

“I can understand why some players get out of the habit of competing because they’re too busy teaching but I don’t want to get into that habit. I still enjoy a challenge,” said Pilkington who arrived at Old Links a day early so he could familiarise himself with the course.

“I’d never even seen it before,” he added. Among the events he’s earmarked for this season is the 27-hole Pro-Am at Nefyn where his dad was pro prior to his move to Pwllheli.