Higgins set for 12-hole title sprint at PGA Play-offs

Richard Wallis (above) is tied for the lead with David Higgins with just 12 holes to go in the 54-hole PGA Play-offs. Picture: Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesDavid Higgins will go into the last 12 holes of the weather-reduced Titleist PGA Play-Offs tied for the lead with defending champion Richard Wallis and gunning for revenge.

The 40-year old Waterville man, who clinched his European Tour card two weeks ago, birdied three of his last four holes in a rollercoaster to post a battling, one under 70 in the second round at Antalya Golf Club’s PGA Sultan Course in Turkey. Scores

Lightning storms struck again but a flash of inspiration helped Wallis stay in a share of the lead, writes the PGA.

The Walmer & Kingsdown pro, leader by one at the halfway stage after a second round 68, holed a sensational shot from a greenside bunker on the sixth hole of the third round to get to eight under and level with Higgins.

It was the last decisive act of the day at the top of the leaderboard with thunderstorms forcing play to be called off with the result that the £15,000 tournament has been reduced to 54 holes with the first day’s play also being lost to weather.

Earlier in the day, Wallis had completed a second round 68 to lead by one from Waterville Links pro Higgins who couldn’t muster the form of his first round 66 instead settling for a rollercoaster 70.

Higgins identified a par putt on the 14th during his second round as his best shot of the day, going on to birdie three of the last four holes.

“I was all over the place in my second round, I could not find my rhythm,” he said. “I hit it in the water off the first and was either good or bad but I was proud of how I hung in there.

“I holed a great par putt on 14 when I was in danger of going three over for the round and then birdied three of the last four so I was pleased how I turned it round.

“It’s a pity about the weather but that’s the way it goes but it will be fun. It’s obviously disappointing not to play 72 holes but I’m sure all the guys will make it an exciting finish tomorrow

“Richard pipped me last year so hopefully I can get him back this year.”

Wallis, who pipped Higgins to the play-off title 12 months ago, was pleased with how he wrapped up his second round and also his bunker shot.

“At the end of the second round I actually used my Bushnell to check out the leaderboard scores on the last green. I could see it would be useful to hole this and I duly holed a 12 footer for birdie to go one in front,” he said.

“In the third round I made a soft bogey up the first but got a birdie with a good up and down on the third.

“On the sixth I tried to hit a soft cut four iron and hit the pin high trap. The pin was cut seven feet from the right but I played a flop shot out, the ball landed on top of the apron, dug its boots in and rolled in for a nice little birdie.

“It was timely because David had made an awesome eagle up three, birdied five and was standing over a 16 footer for birdie on six. I think when I holed it out the trap it made a little bit of a difference because he left it three foot short.

“The weather has been so unpredictable but in my mind I knew it might get reduced to 54 holes so I’m more than happy.”

The top three qualify for the Great Britain & Ireland PGA Cup team to face the United States at De Vere Slaley Hall and Scottish pro Greig Hutcheon carded a second round 67 to keep his hopes very much alive.

“It’s getting pretty frustrating, it’s been a long week. We’ve had spells of golf where it’s been golf all day and then spells sitting in the club house,” Hutcheon said.

“I was pleased with my 67. I by no means played perfectly, did some scrambling and had a couple of unlucky breaks but holed a nice 20 footer at the last for birdie so I left the course cheery.”

Warrenpoint native Barrie Trainor was tied for sixth after a second round 71 and while he also has a chance of a top-three finish, he’s on course to make the Top-10 who qualify for next year’s BMW PGA at Wentworth.

Places in selected European and Challenge Tour events, such as the Welsh and Scottish Open, will be confirmed once the respective tours have finalised their 2013 schedules.

Meanwhile, Cahir Park’s David Ryan shot a one under 70 to move up to tied 18th on six over.

Titleist PGA Play-Offs – second round scores

1 67, 68 (-7) Richard Wallis (Walmer & Kingsdown)

2 66, 70 (-6) David Higgins (Waterville Golf Links)

3 71, 67 (-4) Greig Hutcheon (Banchory Golf Club)

4 70, 69 (-3) Gareth Wright (West Linton)

5 71, 69 (-2) Thomas Fleming (Frilford Heath)

T6 70, 71 (-1) Barrie Trainor

T6 70, 71 (-1) Paul Streeter (Lincoln Golf Centre)

T8 73, 69 (E) Jason Levermore (Clacton Golf Club)

T8 71, 71 (E) Matthew Cort (Rothley Park)

10 75, 68 (+1) Scott Henderson (Kings Links Golf Centre)