Mark Pilkington is learning new skills in the classroom as he enters the final year of his PGA training. But it’s the old prowess on the course that’s earned him a shot at winning next week’s end of season PGA Play-Offs at Saunton Golf Club which take place from October 24-27.
The former European Tour player – who is now doing his PGA qualifications at Pwllheli Golf Club – landed both the PGA in England & Wales (North) Order of Merit and the Druh Belts & Buckles PGA North Assistants Order of Merit.
It was victory in the latter that secured his place in the 72-hole Play-Offs in Devon where he will have the chance to end the year as PGA No.1 as well as securing a number of European and Challenge Tour starts including the chance of qualifying for the BMW PGA Championship next May – and another trip to Wentworth.
“Wentworth is a lovely course. I have played it a few times over the years and always enjoyed it,” said the 38 year old. “It would be a fantastic place to get to again but I know the event creates a real buzz of interest among the professionals and I have seen this year just how high the standard is.
Pilkington, who turned pro back in 1998, admits it has been a challenge stepping back into the classroom and learning. And he’s still not sure where his PGA qualifications will take him when the studying and exams finally come to an end next May. But he hasn’t lost his zest for the game.
He said: “There had been quite a bit of juggling what with playing and studying. And I am still getting used to the different mind-set at tournaments – one day events, different courses and different conditions.
“When it comes the education, most of the guys are younger than me. But my love for the game has not changed. I still enjoy nothing more than playing and practising. My game is in good shape and I am hitting my driver well. And all the studying is worth it because a PGA qualification is a vital aspect of golf and it creates opportunities.”
Pilkington’s career high point was taking the Kazakhstan Open in 2006. He would love to experience that winning feeling again in the PGA Play Offs where he will be joined by Carden Park’s Garry Houston and Birchwood’s Phil Archer who also qualified for the Play-Offs.
The top ten finishers at the Play-Offs will earn a berth in the PGA Championship next May while the top three exempt finishers will also secure automatic qualification for the Great Britain & Ireland PGA Cup team to face the United States at Foxhills Club & Resort in September 2017.
Image of Mark Pilkington used courtesy of Julian Herbert/Getty Images.