David Poolan saw off a determined challenge from defending champion Sam Pollard to win this year’s Race to Woodhall Spa (RWS) on Sunday.
Melton Mowbray Golf Club’s season-long competition arrived at its destination for the 2016 final where just six golfers were left to battle it out at the home of the English Golf Union.
Pollard had automatically qualified for the final by winning this season’s Order of Merit, and he was joined by Adrian Stokes, Mick Wilson, David Poolan, Billy Kevan and club captain Jack Inguanta.
The finalists had their own caddies in bibs, sponsored by Bax Work Wear and Milestone Communications, and they had to work hard to keep everything dry as the day began with heavy rain.
In difficult conditions, Pollard made a great start and took an early lead. The rain slowly eased, but Pollard continued with solid par golf and after only six holes had carved out a three-point lead over Inguanta.
The scoring started to improve as the sun broke out, and at the halfway stage, Pollard had secured 18 points with Inguanta a point behind.
Stokes was three points further back on 15, closely followed by Kevan on 14, with Poolan trailing on 13.
Nett birdies from Poolan, Kevan and Stokes closed the gap, and after the signature par three 12th, four players were separated by two points to set up an exciting finish.
Pollard found trouble on 15 and his title defence toughened considerably with further nett birdies from Kevan and Poolan which saw the lead change for the first time.
After 16 holes, Kevan led with 29 points, a point ahead of Poolan, with Pollard and Inguanta tied for third on 27.
The heavens opened again, sparking a freak thunderstorm, but the brutal conditions did not affect Poolan.
He kept his composure to par the last two holes, including a fantastic up-and-down from 50 yards on the 18th, to finish with a total of 32 points. Nineteen of these were earned on the back nine – a fantastic turnaround after a difficult front nine.
He had a nervous wait while Pollard played the 18th, needing to hole his second shot to force a sudden death play-off.
The 2015 winner came very close, but his birdie finish was not enough as he finished a point behind on 31 points. Kevan came third on 29 points with only four points separating the top four.
Tim Buxton, who created the Race to Woodhall, presented Poolan with the hand-carved RWS Trophy, the third different recipient in the three years since the competition began.
MMGC members will now look forward to Saturday, April 8 when next year’s race begins.
* For more information on the competition, visit www.racetowoodhallspa.co.uk