Amateur

Ben Westgate wins 'Pinnacle Order of Merit'

Ben Westgate has bounced back to the top of Welsh Amateur golf, claiming the Pinnacle Order of Merit for the third time after a break of three years.

Victory in the Duncan Putter at the start of the season, along with Luke Thomas, set the Southerndown and Truro player up for a return to the top, reinforced with third place in the Lytham Trophy and tied seventh at the Brabazon Trophy as the highlights of a consistent season.

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The former Welsh Amateur champion also forced his way back into the three man Wales team for the World Amateur Championships, to be held in Turkey, while also working as a consultant technical engineer for Cardiff mining, environmental and water company SRK in Cardiff.

Westgate slipped back down the Welsh rankings as work took priority, he bucks the trend for most amateur golfers as his PhD in geology and globetrotting job means he has no intention of moving into the professional ranks.

He won the Order of Merit in 2008 and 2009, narrowly missing out on a Walker Cup place, but has slipped down the list in the last couple of years.

“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,” he admitted, while on his way to Ghana to 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, I understand my game a lot better rather than having an idealised version of how I should be playing. Often it is not about how good your good is, but how bad your bad is, I was still managing to make a score when not hitting the ball as well.

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

Westgate has not given up hope of playing in the Walker Cup one day. “I do not 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 said.

“I have been training with Zac Gould since September working on flexibility, range of movement, strength and power. I think that this has been one area I have definitely improved.

“I have worked with Richard Sadler in Cornwall for 10 years, so we have a very good understanding of what I want to achieve and the practicalities.”

Prestatyn's Jason Shufflebotham, who successfully defended his Welsh Amateur title this summer, was second in the Pinnacle Order of Merit, Walton Heath's David Boote was third thanks to victory in the St David's Gold Cross, while Welsh Amateur runner-up Will Jones, from Oswestry, was fourth.
Last year's winner, Rhys Pugh, was fifth, though this year the Vale of Glamorgan Resort golfer was based largely in America and his European Amateur Championship victory was not one of the counting events.

“This is a really impressive comeback for Ben, capped by returning to our three man team for the World Amateur Championships in Turkey at 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.”

The Pinnacle Order of Merit is decided by points earned at various events through the summer, both in Wales and across the amateur circuit.

Events are weighted according to the strength of the field in each event, with the Welsh Amateur title also carrying a high tariff.


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