St Ives pair target jackpot win and Las Vegas prize

That’s what is on offer for Mark Pond and Peter Howard if they win the regional final of Virgin Atlantic PGA National Pro-Am Championship in August.

TWO golfers from St Ives will hit the jackpot if they win the regional final of the Virgin Atlantic PGA National Pro-Am Championship in August – a trip to Las Vegas.

Mark Pond, 45, a club pro at Ives for seven years and postmaster Peter Howard, 55, are bidding to reach the Grand Final, which is being staged at the 36-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed SouthShore course.

First, though, the pair must come through the regional final of Europe’s biggest pro-am competition on August 30 at Thorpeness Golf Club.

It is one of 16 regional finals, where they will play one round of better-ball medal play.

The winners at each regional final will secure their seats on the plane to Vegas.

However, amateur Howard, who has been a member at St Ives for more than 20 years, remained philosophical about the potential prize on offer and said he isn’t looking that far ahead.

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“I think I’ll just go and play it as another normal game. If you go in with it all hyped up, I don’t think you’ll play that well on the day,” he said

“The course at Thorpeness is one I’ve never played on previously, so it’ll be strange, but I’m looking forward to it and it just depends how we play on the day.

“If we were to get through and get the chance to play in Las Vegas, of course it would be fantastic.

“But I haven’t really thought that far ahead if I’m honest, I’m just taking it one step at a time.

“There are always a few good players who turn up out of the blue and play well at these regional finals – I’ve played at a couple before – so it would be silly to get ahead of ourselves.”

Howard plays off a handicap of 13 and took his first big step towards that luxury trip by winning the club qualifying competition with a nett score of 70 back in December.

He will be joined at the regional final by St Ives pro Pond who, when asked about the carrot of a Grand Final at the Loews Lake Las Vegas resort, said: “It would certainly help raise the profile of the club, should we get through to that final round.

“We’re practicing quite a bit, we’re very confident and, hopefully, we’ll do it.

“It would be a career highlight for me, but it would probably mean even more to Peter.”