Nick Poppleton wins EuroPro thriller at Slaley

Nick Poppleton won his first title on the PGA EuroPro Tour at Slaley Hall after a dramatic final day battle with Ben Jones.

The final round of The QHotels Collection Championship produced drama from the moment the leaders teed off.

Ben took a two-shot advantage into the finale, but quickly saw his lead halved as Nick birdied the first. He then made two more birdies in a row, while Ben responded with three birdies of his own at holes two, three and four.

The pair matched each other blow for blow before reaching the seventh green and being met with loud cheers as Bailey Gill made a hole-in-one at the eighth.

At the turn, the leading pair maintained a clear advantage on the field, with Ben restoring his overnight lead of two over Nick.

The big drama of the final round rook place at the 14th hole. Ben, holding a one-shot lead, was in trouble off the tee after finding a fairway bunker as Nick found the fairway. Played slightly uphill and into the wind, 28-year-old Nick’s seven-iron approach then took one hop and slammed into the cup. Ben, who led by one on the tee, dropped his first shot of the day and left the green two shots behind.

Three consecutive bogeys followed for Ben, however a double-bogey for Nick at 16 ensured the event wasn’t over yet with Bailey just one-shot behind as he stood on the 18th tee.

An eventual bogey for Bailey restored Nick’s two shot-lead at the last, which he took advantage of, making a bogey at the demanding long par four to close out the win as Bailey finished second and Ben finished in third place.

“I was 158 yards out and I hit a flighted seven-iron, but I did not know it went in!” an overjoyed Nick said of his shot at the 14th. “I asked a lot of questions of Ben early in the round by making a lot of birdies, and in fairness to him he always answered back. Testament to Ben’s game and long may it continue, his results have been great this year. It’s a shame he has not won yet, but I’m sure he’ll pick one up along the way.”