Belt’s California dreams shattered in play-off

Picture courtesy of Julian Herbert at Getty Images
Picture courtesy of Julian Herbert at Getty Images

Alex Belt suffered double disappointment at the PGA Professional Championship, missing out on the title and then losing the chance to play in America later this year.

The Bridlington golfer held the lead midway through the tournament at Burnham and Berrow Golf Club, but eventually finished two shots behind the winner, Devon’s Paul Hendriksen.

However, being tied for fourth meant Belt, who represents Snainton Golf Centre, meant he still had a chance to book his place in Jon Bevan’s PGA Cup team to play the United States in California in September.

The top six players on the south-west coast of England last week earned selection for the team, but Belt missed out in a play-off against Alex Wrigley (Hartlepool), Michael Watson (Wessex Golf Centre) and Lee Clarke (Beeston Fields).

That leaves him clinging to the hope he will be the captain’s pick, which will be announced in the next two weeks to complete the 10-man team.

Belt proved he has avoided a Wentworth hangover by putting himself among the front-runners going into the final day.

Bouncing back from failing to make the cut at the PGA Championship last month, he was the front-runner after two rounds, posting a fabulous card of 67 on the second day.

Belt said after day two: “The conditions yesterday were really tough and I expected more of the same. I didn’t make many mistakes today and putted well which really made the difference.

“It’s a strange situation coming out of Wentworth because you spend an awful lot of time and energy preparing for the week and actually playing while you’re there.

“I didn’t feel at my best while I was there, but after a few days off I’m starting to get my mojo back a little bit.

“That’s important because this is a big week for me, I’ve always wanted to play in the PGA Cup and I’d love to make it into Jon Bevan’s team for later this year.”

A 75 on day three was a hiccup but he still went into the final round one shot behind the leading pack.

The 29-year-old started well, with a birdie on the second, but three bogeys and a costly double bogey on the 10th meant he was always playing catch-up.

After a birdie on the 15th, he sank a 50ft putt on the last for a birdie three to tie for fourth spot and face a four-way play-off for the three places in the PGA team.

But he was the odd man out in the extra holes, after perfect morning conditions gave way in the afternoon to 30mph gusts.

Winner Hendriksen finished on +4, at the top of an ever-changing leaderboard.

Cameron Clark and Gareth Wright tied for second spot, one shot behind.