Former Ladies European Tour player Alison Nicholas could not hide her delight after winning the Titleist & FootJoy Women’s PGA Professional Championship at the third time of asking at one her favourite venues.
Assisted by her nephew Tom throughout both challenging rounds at The Berkshire Golf Club, Nicholas saw off the attention of two-time winner Alison Gray and Marie Martindale in a tense play-off to get her hands on the coveted title.
All three players had finished on a score of 143 and it was perhaps Martindale who was favourite heading into the play-off having birdied three of the last four holes.
But she was the first to go after bogeying hole one and after two more bites at the cherry, it was Nicholas who held her nerve to become the 11th winner of the competition.
“I’m delighted,” said 1997 US Open winner Nicholas, who also took home the £1,000 top prize.
“It’s a beautiful golf course, I had my nephew caddying for me which was very special so it was a good day and I enjoyed it.
“I played okay this morning, I just had a few three putts and then I three-putted the last to set up a play-off.
“If I had held that putt on the 18th I would have saved myself going up and down on the play-off hole four times!
“I wanted to win this. The first time I played in this competition I was awful, I didn’t play well at all. I played reasonably well last year but I was played catch-up a bit because I didn’t have a great first round.
“I think winning this just finishes the cake off. Perhaps I should just hang my boots up now! I’m getting on a bit now and I’m feeling it now – my body is aching. But it feels great.”
After finishing the opening round on two over par, Nicholas, of Beau Desert Golf Club, could have let her head drop.
Instead she dropped just one shot on her way to a 70, but admits her preparation could have been better.
“I don’t play an awful lot at the moment. I do a bit of teaching and various other things, so I haven’t played an awful lot but I try and keep pretty fit and hit a few shots here and there, but not enough.
“I didn’t really think about that too much I just went out and played thinking about the shot I was going to play and enjoy it because this is one of my favourite golf courses.
There was a sense of disappointment from Gray who was bidding to make it a hat-trick of wins 13 years after her previous triumph in 2004.
“I’m a bit disappointed but it was a very up and down round today,” said Gray.
“From bogeys to birdies, it was up and down. I was pleased to get into the play-offs but I’m just a bit gutted I didn’t do better.”
Heather MacRae had her sights set on successfully defending her crown after flying in from the Algarve for the event.
The Scot has fond memories of her victory in Oxfordshire last year and she came close to becoming only the third player to defend the trophy.
MacRae shot one over in her opening round and three birdies in the opening six holes of her second put her right in contention.
But back-to-back birdies on the eighth and ninth proved too difficult to bounce back from and she finished fourth, one shot back from the leading three on 144.
There was to be no joy this time round either for four-time winner Tracy Loveys who endured an inconsistent day at The Berkshire.
She looked set to post an opening round of 72 before a double bogey on the 18thdamaged her score.
After dropping an early shot in her second round, birdies on the second and third looked to have picked up her confidence. But three early bogeys on the back nine ended her hopes of making any real challenge.
For a full list of scores from the Titleist & FootJoy Women’s PGA Professional Championship click here.
For view our gallery of images from the event click here