Malton & Norton’s Halley edging closer to EuroPro breakthrough

MALTON & NORTON’S Chris Halley came tantalisingly close to winning his first EuroPro Tour championship at Prince’s, in Kent - within 12ft, in fact.

Malton & Norton's Chris Halley.

That was the distance from which he putted to win the HotelPlanner.com Championship in a four-man play-off having tied for first place in regular play.

The chance came at what proved to be the penultimate hole of a six-hole sudden-death climax to the HotelPlanner.com Tour event.

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The 2013 Yorkshire amateur champion missed - “it was just a bit of a misread really” - and Delamere Forest’s Haydn McCullen took the title by parring the next.

Halley’s aim at the start of the season, his second on the EuroPro Tour, was to claim his first victory and having gone so close he hopes to make the most of his final chance to achieve his goal, at the tour’s season climax next month.

The Matchroom Sport Tour Championship at Desert Springs, in Almeria, Spain from October 28-30 is open to the top 60 players after last week’s event in Kent and Halley qualified in 27th place.

While the 30-year-old is disappointed he did not quite complete the job at Prince’s there are positives on which he can draw in Almeria.

One of them is his consistent play as demonstrated by the fact he shot three consecutive rounds of 67; another is that he was unaffected by nerves in the play-off.

“I wasn’t that nervous really going into it, it was just something you’ve got to do,” he said. “You’ve just got to get on with it and take it as it comes.”

Only one hole was used in the play-off, the 455-yard par-4 ninth, which was one of only two Halley had bogeyed in his final round and he took five there again at the sixth time of asking in the play-off.

“It (the play-off) was dragging on a bit and it wasn’t the best hole for a play-off,” he said. “It was quite a difficult hole.”

He will head for Spain the Sunday before the final event gets under way to get in a couple of days practice on a course unfamiliar to him.

“I’m fairly good at acclimatising to a new course,” he said. “I’d never played Prince’s before and only had one practice round there, but once you’ve played a course once you start to get the gist of a place. Getting the pace of the greens is one of the most important things.”

Halley, who has three sponsors in Whitby Seafood, The Ultimate Golf Coach and James Whitaker Golf to help defray the considerable cost of playing on tour, is understandably eager to taste victory again.

After all, as well as winning the Yorkshire title in his last year as an amateur, he also topped the Order of Merit having won seven of eight tournaments entered.

All of which suggests it is just a matter of time before he joins the EuroPro winners’ circle.