Westgate strikes gold in Order of Merit

Welshman swaps sandstone for sand wedge to top season-long points list

Westgate strikes gold in Order of Merit

Despite spending much of the season working for a Cardiff mining company, Ben Westgate bounced back to the top of Welsh Amateur golf after clinching his third Pinnacle Order of Merit title.

Westgate took the Duncan Putter at the start of the season alongside Luke Thomas before finishing a credible third in the Lytham Trophy and seventh at the Brabazon Trophy.

The former Welsh Amateur champion has also forced his way back into the three-man Wales team for the World Amateur Championships to be held in Turkey.

“I felt at the start of the season I could get into the Wales teams, but I knew I would have to win the Order of Merit to do so,” said the Trevose player, before jetting off to Ghana to commence work on a mining project.

“That became part of the goals I set at the beginning of the season and I was able to relax and enjoy it, even when I lost something like nine balls playing round Harlech!

“I finished in the top-ten in four of the six events and I now understand my game a lot better, rather than having an idealised version of how I should be playing.

“Moving to Cardiff with work has helped in terms of practising and getting to events, while between work and golf I get to go to some pretty interesting places.”

The 33-year-old bucks the trend for most amateur golfers since his PhD in geology and globetrotting job means he has no intention of moving into the professional ranks.

But the Welshman, who claimed the Order of Merit in 2008 and 2009, admits he hasn’t yet given up hope of competing in the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup side one day.

“I don’t think next year will be possible based on the selection criteria, but after that the next one is at Lytham in 2015, which is a course I like and where I have done well so we will see what happens nearer the time,” he added.

Prestatyn’s Jason Shufflebotham, who successfully defended his Welsh Amateur title this summer, finished second in the Order of Merit, while 2011 Order of Merit champion and Walker Cup star Rhys Pugh took fifth – having spent a large chunk of his season in America.

“This is a really impressive comeback for Ben, capped by returning to our three man team for the World Amateur Championships inTurkeyat the end of the month,” said Golf Union of Wales’ director of performance Ben Waterhouse.

“He laid down a marker early in the Duncan Putter and his performances among strong fields at the Lytham and Brabazon events meant he finished more than 100 points clear in first place.”

Pinnacle Order of Merit Final Points Standings

481.02 Ben Westgate (Trevose)
345.00 Jason Shufflebotham (Prestatyn)
305.43 David Boote (Walton Heath)
259.50 Will Jones (Oswestry)
257.40 Rhys Pugh (Vale of Glamorgan)

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