Adrian Milledge reports back from the OCEANTEE WPGA Championship that took place at Kedleston Park on July 3-4

Devon golfer Jessica Smart ensured lightning of the golfing variety struck twice at Kedleston Park, Derbyshire, by winning the OCEANTEE WPGA Championship for the second year in succession.

The pro from Saunton Golf Club claimed the prestigious title by winning a play-off last year but rediscovered her mojo on the final two holes to avoid a nerve-jangling showdown this time.

That looked a possibility when the 30-year-old ended the first of two negotiations of the Open Championship regional qualifying venue level on five-under with Ladies European Tour player Sian Evans.

Her hopes of becoming only the fourth player to win the event two or more times looked doomed, however, when she trailed her rival by four shots at the turn.

A bogey for Evans at the 10th followed by two dropped shots at the 11th and then successive bogeys at 13, 14, and 15 offered Smart a reprieve.

And with Evans’ travails continuing with another double bogey on 18, Smart took full advantage and responded with a birdie, birdie finish for a two-under-par total of 146 to win by a shot.

Reflecting on her victory, Smart said:

“I’ve hardly played at all this season due to working in the shop at Saunton and coaching, so I came into the event with no expectations.

“I was also pretty relaxed and that probably helped me as, being behind all day, I just hung in there. Then I made birdies at the final two holes to do it – and avoid a play-off!”

Smart’s triumph will fuel the first of two celebrations in a week that sees her turn 31 and, given her liking for Kedleston Park, relocating it to Devon would make an ideal present.

“I love this course,” she added. “It really suits my game. It’s very different to my home course but I grew up playing parkland golf, so I’m used to it.”

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