Cheetham’s Worthwhile Trip from Loch Lomond to Bulgaria
Neil Cheetham (pictured with his winning pro-am team) may have felt a little twinge of envy when he left the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond heading for Bulgaria as some other fellow pros were bound for St Andrew’s for The Open Championship…. but there proved to be a consolation awaiting him in the shape of a winner’s cheque for the BlackSeaRama Pro-Am.
The Sheffield, UK-born 43-year-old cruised home in the inaugural Confederation of Professional Golf-endorsed event by three clear strokes on two-under par 142 (72-70) ahead of runner-up Andrew Sherborne (74-71) with Slovenia’s Sebastijan Ajster (73-73) and Martin Dewhurst (74-72) in joint-third place.
Played out in difficult, blustery conditions – not too dissimilar to some of the windy weather that blew many of the St Andrews field off course – Bulgaria’s first international pro-am completed its ground-breaking 36 holes before a threatened thunderstorm could break out over the dramatic stretch of coastline.
It was a well-earned reward for UK North Region PGA professional who has undergone a busy schedule of events this season including his achieving a high-place on the first round leaderboard of the BMW Championship at Wentworth at the end of May with a 69.
During some quarter of a century as a professional he has made several visits to the European Tour Q School and has served spells both on the main Tour and the Challenge Tour. This he has described as being a ‘blessing in disguise’ after he turned to golf as a teenager when a serious knee injury ended what could have been a first-class football career with Sheffield Wednesday FC.
One of the outstanding achievements in his career was that of finishing runner-up to South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel in the Dunhill Championship.
For Sherborne it proved something of a repeat performance to the previous Confederation of Professional Golf-endorsed pro-am when a final round surge took him into runners-up spot behind the American Lee Rinker. At BlackSeaRama he followed up his opening 74 with a one-under-par 71…but it was not enough to overtake the deserved winner, Cheetham.