Gareth Wright wins qualifier for Paul Lawrie Match Play
EDINBURGH-BASED Gareth Wright secured his fourth European Tour appearance of the season after winning the Aberdeen Asset Management Paul Lawrie Match Play qualifier at Archerfield Links.
The West Linton PGA professional clinched the sole spot up for grabs in the European Tour event starting on Thursday at the East Lothian venue after beating Chris Kelly at the second extra hole in a play-off.
The pair carded matching six-under-par 66s on the Fidra Links, halved the 18th in birdies first time around before Wright holed a seven-footer to make 4 again when they played the same hole once more.
The success continued Wright’s impressive records in qualifiers, having come through a shoot-out for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open the last two years and also got into The Open at Muirfield in 2013.
“I’ve managed to sneak a few spots through these type of events, so I’m really pleased,” he admitted, having had a chance to claim a £2000 cheque that was also up for grabs when he stood over a seven-foot eagle putt at the 18th only to miss that after also squandering a handful of other good opportunities.
“My game was really good today and I was disappointed coming off with six-under. I felt 10-under would have been a realistic score, to be honest. In a play-off, it can be like flipping a coin, so I was delighted to make two birdies to get through.”
In addition to the Scottish Open, Wright also played in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this season while he has the British Masters at The Grove to come later in the year, having earned spots in the latter two events through the PGA Play-Offs.
“I like the big courses as they suit my game,” he declared. “I was disappointed with my performance (a missed cut) in the PGA Championship at Wentworth, but that was so early in our season.
“Even though I made the cut at Castle Stuart, I was also disappointed with my performance in the Scottish Open. I struggled on the greens in the wind. But I really like this golf course and I won’t feel out of my depth this week.”
Kelly, last year’s Tartan Tour No 1, made his score with a burst of six birdies in nine holes from the fourth before “hanging on a bit” over the final few holes.
He was the favourite to claim the spot after Wright left an eagle putt woefully short at the first extra hole but the Welshman holed that before repeating the feat second time around.
The pair finished two shots ahead of two-time Paul Lawrie Invitational winner Greg McBain, Dunbar’s Neil Fenwick and rising Bathgate star Louis Gaughan, who was four-under with four to play but couldn’t improve on that.