Local golfer wins prestigious American tournament

Paul Walker and Simon Eaton standing next to the Ben Hogan statue
Paul Walker and Simon Eaton standing next to the Ben Hogan statue

TEXAS ranger Simon Eaton made the most of his American dream by returning with the prestigious Nike Oven Four Ball Championship trophy.

The Nelson Golf Club professional was by no means a Lone Ranger in his quest though, as companion Paul Walker helped claim a one-shot victory over Irish counterparts Lee Owens (Killiney) and Leonard Owens (Royal Dublin) for the overall title in Fort Worth, Texas.

Scotland’s Jonathan Porteous (Craigielaw) and Mark Patchett (Broomieknowe) came third at the world-famous Colonial Country Club, home to the Crowne Plaza Invitational, which is one of the longest-running annual events on the US PGA Tour.

“It was great,” said a jubilant Eaton.

“We won it by one shot from Ireland to take the trophy so we’re delighted.

“It’s a great achievement to finish winners of the overall tournament because there must have been 200 pairs competing at the start of the event.”

He added: “I held a 15ft putt on the last hole but I still didn’t think it was enough.

“But in the end it turned out that it was and we’re well suited with the result.”

Eaton booked his place at the tournament with Walker, of Knott End, after scoring 45 points in the Nike Oven Four Ball Championship English qualifier at Kibworth, beating their nearest challengers by six points in the four-ball better ball stableford format.

But the 35-year-old admits that the duo faced a much tougher proposition after arriving in the States:

He said: “The course was huge.

“The par 3 courses were big enough and there were 660-yard par 5s.

“It wasn’t an average course and it was quite windy so it did play out very long. It was a bit of a test.

“Paul is a bit of a short hitter which proved difficult, but he makes up for it round the greens.”

And the golf fanatic, who became pro at Nelson in June 2007, even found time in his Championship winning schedule to explore the Nike Headquarters.

“The whole experience was great,” said Eaton.

“We beat some very good and experienced players.

“Nike really looked after us and everything was paid for. There was no expense spared.

“We even had the chance to tour the headquarters and they were sorting Tiger Woods’ wedges out!”