Bond Stars in the west again
But the Marriott St Pierre touring player faced his toughest tussle as he only triumphed after a three-hole play-off against Graham Howell (Ferndown Forest).
The Dorset man’s chances of victory evaporated when his wedge from 130-yards at the 18th landed a foot short of the green and the ball spun back into the rushes by the water’s edge. He failed to get up and down.
Bond, whose shot finished safely 25 feet beyond the pin, duly made a winning par after completing a blemish-free six-birdie 66 in normal time after opening with a three-under 69.
“I had to go for it but paid the penalty,” said Howell, who was seeking a second career OOM victory after sharing the first round lead on five-under-par 67 with Richard O’Hanlon (The Point at Polzeath) who faded.
Howell was struggling with a hip injury and limped his way round the course. “I had a lot of pain at the back of my hip during the first round and put some medication on it but gradually eased,” he said.
Bond, buoyant after picking up almost £10,000 for finishing 43rd in the Wales Open he led at the halfway stage at Celtic Manor a week earlier, has been relentless all season.
He said: “After my good start to the year I set my heart on winning the Order of Merit and have played consistently in all events. I am playing as well as ever and shooting good scores. That’s what‘s different from a few years ago.
“My next targets are to regain my European Tour card and also do well in the Titleist Play-Offs at the end of the year.”
Bond, 43, starts his Tour campaign at the first stage at Frilford Heath on October 1. Last year he won both the first and second stages with a combined score of 29-under-par but failed at the final hurdle in Spain.
Paul Hendriksen (Dinnaton), whose attempt to reach the play-offs for the third successive year just failed, could have qualified for extra holes but missed his birdie putt by a foot on the last. He settled for third on eight-under-par after two 68s.
Lee Thompson (Dudsbury) was a potential winner making seven birdies on the second day, but his round was marred by three dropped shots, including one at the last. He ended a further shot back in fourth, one ahead of Ed Goodwin (Cirencester), Chris Gill (Newquay) and Ross Whitelock (St Mellion).
One-time leader Sion Bebb (Vale Hotel) just failed to sneak back into the top three in the OOM after a three-under 141. Parc Golf Academy’s Richard Dinsdale’s four-under second round was just enough to retain third place, behind Stuart Little (Minchinhampton) who clung on to second spot by sharing 16th on 141.