Newly crowned Welsh National PGA Championship winner Lee Rooke will savour the moment but isn’t going to rest on his laurels as he looks to take his game to new levels.
Rooke defeated Jon Bevan in a play-off to win the £10,000 tournament at his home course at Royal St David’s and also earn a place among Europe’s elite at next year’s Wales Open.
Bevan had surged through the field with a superb two-under-par 67 including two birdies in the last three holes in the testing conditions of the day at the north Wales links.
It set a three under total for the 36-hole event which Rooke matched courtesy of a birdie at 16.
The pair played two extra holes on the par three 18th with Rooke securing the title with a par after his opponent had found the bunker for the second time in the sudden death shootout and could only manage a bogey.
Rooke’s victory in the Asbri Golf sponsored event earned him £1,500 and is also a rich reward for working hard on his game under the expert eye of his new boss, Royal St David’s head professional Gareth Lewis.
“It’s a great feeling to win having worked hard with Gareth for a year now and now we will sit down and see where we need to improve,” said Rooke who nearly pulled out through a sickness bug before the first round.
“I’m a lot calmer on the course now, and making better decisions. The next thing will see me heading to the gym to work on my fitness.”
He added: “Qualifying for the Wales Open is a big thing for me, it was the golden nugget, as I have only ever played once on the Challenge Tour and it was in the back of my mind in the play-off.”
Rooke was also delighted to win the prestigious Welsh National title because his first boss, Andy Griffiths, head pro at Llanymynech, twice won the event which dates back to 1904.
“He was my first boss so it’s great to get my name up there alongside his. It also feels really good to have won on Royal St David’s because of my attachment. But, it was brutal out there, the first five holes out there I probably could have done with a caddie. Luckily it stopped raining otherwise I would still be out there.
“I haven’t played many play offs so wasn’t that nervous and it went really quick. I didn’t really get time to think which was good.”
Bevan, who birdied 18 to make the play-off, earned the consolation of a place alongside Rooke in the PGAs of Europe International Team Championships in December.
“I played really well today and was happy to be in the play-off,” said Bevan.
“I think the best guy in the play off won, I just made a couple of bad swings and hit the bunker twice – I think they are going to rename it Bevan’s Bunker.
“Every time I tee up I try and win but it wasn’t until the 16th when I made birdie that I thought I’ve actually got a chance to win.
“I made a great birdie on 18 to get into the play-off so I’m delighted. From 12 inwards, there was a lot of head covers coming off. I wasn’t hitting a lot of irons put it that way so it was tough. But it’s tough, it’s Royal St David’s, a great challenge and great course and to have nearly pulled it off here would have meant a great deal, and it still means a great deal to have played well here.”
Former champion Garry Houston was third at one under with Cardiff’s Adam Constable shooting a fine 67 for fourth place.
Paul Mayo took the Wales Senior PGA National title with rounds of 70 and 73.
Paul Williams, sales and marketing director of Asbri commented: “We’ve had an excellent week here at Royal St David’s, one of Wales’ finest links courses, and would like to thank all the staff for their superb hospitality as well as all the tournament staff at the PGA. We are extremely proud to be title sponsors of the PGA Welsh National and sincerely look forward to returning back here next year.”
Eryl Williams, Asbri Golf’s managing director, added: “Our new partnership with the PGA is one that we are extremely excited about and a very significant step in the growth of our brand.
“We would like to thank everyone for their support this week and in particular our PGA customers who have supported our business. It’s great to give something back to the professionals who have supported us and congratulations to Lee(Rooke) the 2013 Welsh National PGA Champion.”