Gareth Wright wins Scottish PGA title

Gareth Wright is the first non-Scot to win the Scottish title in 80 years
Gareth Wright is the first non-Scot to win the Scottish title in 80 years
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Capital-based Gareth Wright has wasted no time living up to the tag of his new management company after becoming a “champion”.

The 32-year-old has emulated greats like Bernard Gallacher, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Paul Lawrie by lifting the Scottish PGA title.

A brace of 68s on the closing day for a nine-under-par total of 275 gave Wright a one-shot victory in the Tartan Tour’s flagship event over the King’s Course at Gleneagles.

It was his first competitive outing after signing for Champions of Golf, an English-based management company that has two-times major winner Tony Jacklin on its books.

Neil Fenwick, another Edinburgh-based player, was also added to the Champions of Golf stable over the winter after talent scouts spotted potential in both him and Wright.

One of the first things they did for Wright was to secure a new equipment deal and it reaped an instant reward in his first competitive outing since last November.

“I changed my irons and rescue clubs to Adams and my driver and woods to TaylorMade,” he said after picking up a winner’s cheque for £9000 in Perthshire.

“I felt a little bit nervous about that at the start of the season, but everything has been brilliant.”

A renowned big-hitter, Wright led the driving distance statistics when he played in all four rounds in The Open at Muirfield last year.

“I’m hitting it as far, if not further, with my new driver and, what’s more, it also feels straighter,” he added.

Born in London and raised in Wales, Wright moved to the Edinburgh area 16 years ago and is attached to West Linton, where his stepfather, Ian Wright, is the club pro. His coaching had already helped Gareth win the 2012 British Club Pros’ Championship and their hard work together has paid dividends again.

But, while the new Scottish PGA champion is off to Turkey on Sunday to play in a Challenge Tour next week, he’ll be back behind the counter in the West Linton shop before long.

“I’ve no idea how my schedule is going to shape up for the rest of the season,” he admitted. “I’ll play wherever I can get a start on the Challenge Tour and will also play in three or four EuroPro Tour events.

“But I’m still working in the shop at West Linton as there’s only my dad and I, so my opportunities might be limited.”

Wright came from three shots behind at the halfway stage to become the first non-Scot to claim the coveted PGA crown in 80 years.

It was a well-deserved triumph, too, after he’d twice come agonisingly close to adding his name to the trophy in the previous four years. “I lost to Chris Doak in a play-off in 2010 then was pipped by Greig Hutcheon last year after making an eagle at the last,” he reflected.

“Based on that, I think the course owed me this one and it was nice to finally finish off the job in this event.”

Dunbar’s Fenwick finished joint-ninth on two-under, just ahead of Kings Acre-attached Andrew Oldcorn and Kingsfield’s David Patrick.

Mark Hillson, the former Lothians champion who is now based at Tandridge in Surrey, shared 17th spot on his debut in the event, finishing just in front of Marriott Dalmahoy’s Mark Kerr after his challenge faded on the last day.