Play-off delight for Jake Ball after dramatic finale at Prince’s GC
BUCS: Wednesday, April 13th
FORMAT: 72-hole strokeplay
The Prince’s Club in Kent has hosted some great events over the years but, for drama, there can be few to better yesterday’s conclusion of the British Universities and College Sport Tour Finals.
Forty students qualified for the 72-hole showdown and with just one hole to go, four players were in with a chance of winning on the Shore/Dunes layout (Prince’s has three nines and all three combinations were used across the three-day event).
Exeter University’s Jake Ball (Woodhall Spa) was one of them, having started the final round six back of his team-mate Rhys Williams (Foxhills).
And, after a remarkable sequence of events, the two of them ended up in a play-off with the Lincolnshire player birdieing the second extra hole to win his first student event.
Ball’s victory took him up to 11th in the final Order of Merit placings. Devon golfer Eliot Baker (Tiverton GC and Hartpury Uni) was the overall winner. His fifth place at Prince’s was enough to keep him ahead of Lancastrian Jamie Van Wyk (Royal Lytham), who goes to UCLan.
Ball was in the penultimate group for the final round at the former Open venue but quickly closed up on the leaders, who were one hole behind. At the 12th he holed an outrageous bomb from off the green to go four under for his round and level with Canadian Connor Rochon.
By the time he just lipped out for another birdie at the last, Quick (Beaconsfield) and Rochon were just one back while Williams was level with the clubhouse leader, who finished two over for the tournament.
It meant the soon-to-be-champion could watch his nearest challengers finish up and there would be plenty of oohs and aahs as fellow Exeter student Quick left his 30-foot birdie putt just a foot short. Williams then sunk his par-breaking par putt from 20 feet to also close on two over par while Rochon had six feet left to also make the play-off but just missed.
The first extra hole was halved in pars but at the par three that followed, Williams found sand on the 150-yarder while his opponent smashed a pitching wedge to seven feet. With the Surrey-based player splashing out to 20 feet an then missing his par putt, Ball has two for it and made no mistakes.
In the women’s final, there was a 1-2-3 for Stirling University as their leading trio enjoyed a great battle. Scotland’s Penelope Brown (Auchterarder) came out on top thanks to superb closing 70 while Nicola Slater (Woodsome Hall) was just two back and Order of Merit champion Lorna McClymont (Milngavie) was a shot further behind in third.