Friday, 19 March 2010
WHEN darkness stopped the play-off for the £50,000 Formby Hall Challenge on Merseyside Scottish pair Alistair Forsyth and Greig Hutcheon elected to share the title and prize-money rather than return the following morning.

Both players finished this 72 hole joint venture between the Mastercard and Challenge Tours 20 strokes under par after three days of calm, sunny weather but after playing into the setting sun and halving the one play-off hole possible the two emerging stars decided reluctantly to call a halt.

Fittingly, Forsyth was representing the PGA's Mastercard Tour while Hutcheon plays predominantly on the European Tour's Challenge circuit so honours really did end up even all round, Forsyth striking a telling blow for the less experienced Mastercard golfers.

Hutcheon, however, was clearly the happier after recovering from hitting his approach to the long 18th into a ditch when he saved par thanks to a 20ft putt while Forsyth momentarily crumpled in disbelief when he then missed his four foot birdie effort for outright victory.

"I said I wanted to make it exciting but not this exciting, " said Forsyth whose £6,766 winnings takes him back to the top of the Mastercard Order of Merit with a total of £20,046 compared to second-placed Lee James of Dorset who is on £17,887 with the final tournament at Ruddings Park in Harrogate this week.

Hutcheon, meanwhile, was left savouring the best month of his career to date. After almost winning in Moscow he finished top Scot in the Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles before driving south and his efforts this time have given him a chance of making the coveted top 15 on the Challenge Tour who gain cards on to the main European circuit next season.

"I started the week in 39th spot on the Challenge Tour so this win is a real boost. It's been a brilliaant few days. I really like this new course, in fact I can see it challenging to become an Open qualifying track in a few years. It would have been nice to return in the morning to sort it out between Alistair and myself but I'm moving straight on to Poland for the next Challenge event, " he said.

Explained Tournament Director Kevin Feeney: "We had to delay the start of play because of early morning fog and although the players did brilliantly the one thing we could not control was the eventual loss of daylight. Alistair amd Greig were then offered the option of returning the following day or sharing the title and money and, understandably, they chose the latter."

Second place was also shared between Iain Pyman who arrived in Formby fresh from winning the BMW Russian Open and Paul Curry who was an 18 year European Tour veteran until back injury caused him to lose his card last year.

Curry, now 38, admitted he found the final day's marathon 36 holes physically demanding after the delay meant only a 10 minute break between rounds for most players. Currry had started the last day a shot clear thanks mostly to his opening course record 65 but even that score was eclipsed when Bristol's Simon Hurley carded a brilliant nine under par 63 on Friday morning.

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