Saunton Golf Club assistant professional Kristian Mowatt led the winning team in the inaugural PGA North Devon Links Festival.
He owed much to former Exeter Chiefs rugby player Matthew Hingo who took up golf at Saunton eight months ago. Now playing off a handicap of 18 he made eight pars and featured on the card nine times. Hidero Hide and Kevin Cheung were the other players.
The team finished on 256 after rounds of 92 at Royal North Devon and 82 at each of the two Saunton courses.
In the individual event Peter Baker can start his European Seniors Tour in confident mood after a wire-to-wire triumph.
The former Ryder Cup player starts his new career at Forest of Arden this week, a few days after his 50th birthday. He said: “I really needed to play as I haven’t been competing much this summer. It was very good preparation and winning was a bonus.”
Although the South Staffordshire man started the day with a three-shot lead he frittered away his advantage over Saunton’s East course and finished on three-over-par 74. Then he sat in the clubhouse for almost three hours wondering whether his slender lead would hold.
Matt Cort (Beedle Lakes, Leicester) finished one shot behind on the course where he won the Play-Offs a year ago. Last year’s winner of the Cornish Festival produced an outstanding day’s best round of two-under-par 68. His steady play brought birdies at the second, tenth and 11th and a solitary dropped shot at the difficult 16th.
But Scott Drummond (Plymouth) and James Ruth (China Fleet, Saltash) were capable of overtaking Baker. Celebrations had to wait until they made their bedraggled way home, victims of the changing conditions, carding 75 and 76.
After two mainly dry days the weather turned foul for the final round with 30-mph winds and steady drizzle. Early starter Baker was fortunate to miss much of the bad weather.
Baker, who made birdies at the second, tenth, 15th and 18th and five bogeys, said: “It was a lot harder today although I was doing all right until I reached the eighth hole. I hit my ball into a bush and took seven.
“That set me back but I hung on in there. Everything was difficult and it was hard keeping the grips dry. I was happy to see I was still leading when I came in.”
David Dixon (Enmore Park, Bridgwater), who has been playing on the Challenge Tour this summer, produced three consistent rounds of 70 to share second with Cort.
Jon Bevan (Sherborne) and Drummond were equal fourth, followed by Daniel Field (East Herts), Chris Gane (Left Handed Golf, Silvermere, Cobham) and Ruth.
Gane’s trio of Gary Ohon, Robert Price and Jon Hibberd finished runners-up in the team section one shot behind Mowatt after 88, 81 and 86 while Dan Toogood’s Weston-super-Mare team came third 253 (84, 83, 86) with five-handicappers Dave Edwards, Mark Wait and Adam Lampton who holed his second shot on the seventh hole for five points.
PGA West (North Devon Links Festival at Royal North Devon, Saunton West, Saunton East) – Leading final scores: 209, Peter Baker (South Staffs), 65, 69, 75, £1,500; 210, Matthew Cort (Beedle Lakes), 73, 69, 68, and David Dixon (Enmore Park), 70, 70, 70, £1,025 each; 214, Jon Bevan (Sherborne), 71, 69, 74, Scott Drummond (Plymouth), 69, 70, 75, and Daniel Field (East Herts), £650 each; 215, Chris Gane (Left Handed Golf, Sil- vermere), 67, 70, 78, and James Ruth (China Fleet), 70, 69, 76, £416 each; 216, Chris Gill (Newquay) 67, 78, 71, £300; 217, Dan Too- good (Weston-super-Mare), 72, 70, 75, and Richard Dinsdale (Asbri Golf), 72, 71, 74, £237 each; 219, Kristian Mowatt (Saunton), 75 70, 74, £200; 221, Michael Wilson (RND), 72, 75, 74, £175.