Glen Portelli won the Bishop’s Stortford Classic at the first hole of a sudden death play-off with the experienced Sean Whiffin.
The 23-year-old assistant at Verulam Golf Club produced a pinpoint eight-iron approach shot to set up a five-foot birdie putt to win the event.
Both players had returned a score of five under par for their two rounds. It was Portelli’s second PGA title in England East order of merit success having won the East Herts Classic last year.
He used to be a leading Hertfordshire amateur and has now built the platform to become a dominant force in regional events this year.
Portelli said: “This is a good start but I am planning to play in all five remaining order of events this season. I want to win a place in the PGA play-offs in Turkey. Putting was the key to my victory today. I don’t think I have ever putted better in my life.”
As many of his rivals were dropping shots in the windy conditions Portelli produced a strong finish to his second round as Whiffin faltered on the run-in.
Portelli drove the green at the 256-yard par four 14th hole and then sunk a 20-foot putt for eagle that put him five under par. Portelli missed the green and went back to four under after the 15th and, at that stage, Whiffin was in control at seven under for the tournament.
Then everything changed. Whiffin had bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes while Portelli had a stroke of luck at the par three 17th when his tee shot landed on the bank of a bunker to the left of the green and bounced to the right leaving him a 15-foot putt which he sunk for birdie to return to five under.
Portelli had a bunker save for par at the last and now the pressure was on Whiffin. He, too, was in another greenside bunker at the last. He left himself with an 18-foot putt which he sunk bravely to secure the play-off.
Whiffin, too, has thoughts of winning a place in Turkey after spending some of last season playing European Challenge Tour events.
He has been a force in the East Region over the years but the highlight of his career was to finish tied in 48th place in the Open Championship at Royal Troon in 2004.