JOHN KING: PHOTO GETTY IMAGES
Less than 24 hours before Harry and Meghan tied the knot, long serving Lindrick professional John King made a royal comeback to capture the Silversea Senior PGA Championship a few miles down the road from Windsor Castle at Foxhills.
Six and five strokes adrift of leaders Mark Ridley and John Gould respectively at the start of the final round, King kept his game together in regal fashion while they faltered.
Ridley, who hails from the land of the prince bishops and is attached to South Moor Golf Club in Durham, was unable to reproduce the form that had seen him lead the tournament at the end of the first and second rounds and posted a four-over-par total of 77 to finish on two-under. One-over after 12, his round was effectively derailed by bogeys at 14, 16 and 17.
Meanwhile, Gould, who had drawn level with Ridley courtesy of a birdie at the par five fifth, never recovered from the plague of bogeys that followed over four of the next five holes.
A birdie at the par-five 12th provided brief respite before two more bogeys resulted in a five-over-par round of 78 and him ceding third place to Mossock Hall's David Shacklady.
The noble King, by contrast, unaware of the implosions behind him, made flawless progress round the Bernard Hunt course and, courtesy of a birdie at the par-four 13th, carded a one-under-par round of 72 to finish on two-under.
All of which meant a sudden death play-off with Ridley to determine the destiny of the Bernard Hunt trophy and £6,000 winner’s cheque put up by Silversea, the luxury cruise line specialists sponsoring the tournament for the third successive year.
It was staged on the par-four 18th and while King had the momentum, Ridley had ‘previous’ on the double green that serves the final hole on both the Longcross and Bernard Hunt courses at the Surrey resort.
He had signed off on days one and two with a 40-foot chip for a birdie and an even longer putt for an eagle but this time his Midas touch with either putter or wedge deserted him.
Not least on the third negotiation of the hole when he three-putted for a bogey and King claimed victory with a par. King, who has been head pro at the 1957 Ryder Cup venue for 20 years and was an assistant there before moving to nearby Worksop where he coached a youthful Lee Westwood, described his round as one of the best he has played.
But he admitted that, given the deficit he had to make up on Ridley and Monaco based Gould, his initial target was finishing in the top 15 and earning a place in the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship at the London Club in August.
“I was playing with a good buddy, Rob Ellis (Newark),” he explained, “and we were realistically looking at making sure we finished in the top 15.
“But you never know at this game. It was a little bit of surprise to catch them but obviously I’m delighted. I’ve had to work that hard for a victory before on occasions, but this was one of the best rounds I’ve played tee to green.
King was also imperial in his praise for Foxhills and added: “I’ve been coming here for a few years now and it’s been fabulous. The best it’s been. We’ve had bad weather in the past but this year it’s been perfect.
“Both courses are in great condition and, as usual, all the staff have been excellent.”