Harper leads on day one

Two-time runner-up Kevin Harper put himself in the box seat on the opening day of the �32,500 Powerade PGA Assistants’ Championship at East Sussex National with a five-under-par 67.

The winner of the championship, which concludes on Friday, secures a place in the end-of-season Titleist PGA Play-Offs.

The Sidmouth Golf Club assistant, who has just completed his PGA foundation degree, expressed his desire to win the title on what is his last appearance in the championship.

And he came good on day one of the �32,500 tournament, which is in association with FootJoy, as he carded a five-under-par 67 to give him a one shot lead over debutant Matt Spencer (Mill Hill) and a two-shot advantage over defending champion Matthew Cort (Rothley Park).

Just seven players shot under par on a course that recovered well having endured a deluge of rain in recent days, including on the eve of the tournament.

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Harper, a former PGA Europro Tour Order of Merit winner, chalked up six birdies with a bogey at the ninth the only blot on his card.

“I’m really, really pleased with the result,” he said.

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“The leaderboards are all round the course and I knew what I had to do. Even though it’s a great score I’m still disappointed it’s one of those days I had of shooting in double figures under par. It’s one of the best days I can remember playing tee to green. I had an opportunity at nearly every single green but I just didn’t hole enough putts.

“I’m pleased to be leading and it doesn’t matter whether you win by one or 10, I just kept it so I can be in contention as this is my last event on a course I love playing”

Given his record in the tournament, Harper is a joint favourite for the title alongside Cort, but he is content with the external expectations and pressure on his shoulders to end on a winning note.

“A lot has been written about my two runners-up places and wanting to win this year so I’ve had loads of people say your favourite and load of tweets saying the same, so I knew I had to play well and the weather has been kinder.

“There’s no pressure as I don’t become affected by it. It’s only pressure when you can’t handle it and it’s what you make of it. I just do what I normally do and stick to my routines and just enjoy it.”

The winner of the championship, which concludes on Friday, secures a place in the end-of-season Titleist PGA Play-Offs.

Following tomorrow’s second round, the top 40 and ties will make the cut for the final round.

First Round Scores

Pos Score Name Represents

1 67(-5) Kevin Harper Sidmouth GC

2 68(-4) Matt Spencer Mill Green GC

3 69(-3) Matthew Cort Rothley Park GC

4 70(-2) Michael Lowe Leatherhead GC

5= 71(-1) Lee Collison Myerscough College

Darren Walton Bedford Golf Club

Thomas Murray Didsbury Golf Club


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