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On the money at last… and the fame of Hall

by Robert Green

August 06, 2018

A week ago yesterday, Richard McEvoy won the Porsche European Open in Hamburg by a shot and with it a cheque for around £300,000. After 17 years on the circuit, he had collected his maiden European Tour victory – achieved by the making of an 18-foot birdie putt at the final hole – at the 285th attempt. Only Malcolm Mackenzie (509) and Roger Chapman (472) have played more tournaments before actually winning one.

The 39-year-old has been to the Tour qualifying school 12 times. It has been a challenging career. “It's incredible,” said McEvoy. “I've waited a long time – 17 years as a pro on and off the Tour. A lot of bad years, a lot of good years, but it has never quite happened. This was my time. I fought hard and even at the last I overpowered my caddie to lay it up to give myself the best opportunity to make birdie.” Which he duly did.

As we all know, timing is important in golf. I don't just mean as regards the swing or your putting tempo. Form tends to be cyclical; it's best to cash in when you can and when your game is on. The week before his victory in Germany, McEvoy had won on the Challenge Tour at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in Normandy. On the Monday before that success he had been one of the participants in the inaugural Queenwood Cup, an exclusive pro-am at an ultra-swish golf club for high-rollers in Surrey. This was a one-round pro-am and McEvoy won it with an eight-under-par 64. How good was that? Well, he won by three shots. Who did he beat? Among others, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm. The week after McEvoy broke though, three of those four big names (the exception being Rose) were at Akron, Ohio, for the WGC/Bridgestone Invitational. Indeed, heading into the final round yesterday, all three were in the top-10, albeit only McIlroy finished there as Justin Thomas romped home by four shots.

Finally an admission that I do realise the main golf story of the past weekend was the sensational victory of 22-year-old Georgia Hall in the Ricoh Women's Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Unfortunately I was out all day and saw none of it. (When I say ‘unfortunately', I mean the golf sounded great; on the other hand I was able to enjoy the spectacular weather outside.) In becoming the first British winner of the championship since 2009, Hall played the final round, playing in the final group with Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand, in a five-under-par 67. She won by two shots to become the fifth British woman to win a major, the others being Laura Davies (who has four), Alison Nicholas, Karen Stupples and Catriona Matthew. Hall was the 2012 Girls' Amateur champion and the 2013 Ladies' Amateur champion; she finished third in the Open last year. For a young woman, she already had a pretty distinguished past. The future looks pretty fantastic, too.

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