First West Order of Merit win for 25 years Phillip Price turned back the clock as he won his first West Order of Merit tournament for 25 years at Royal North Devon.

The European Tour and Ryder Cup winner claimed the inaugural 36-hole West of England Masters at the second hole in a three-man play-off.

“My last big regional wins were the West Region Championship in 1990 and the Spring Classic the same year,” recalled the former professional at Pontypridd after beating Lee Thompson (Dudsbury) and Sion Bebb (Morlais Castle) who also finished on four-under-par 140 after a difficult second round in the strong seaside winds.

The Welshman, who went on to star on the European Tour and is now preparing for a tilt at the Champions Tour in the United States next year, also set a new low round for a professional on his first visit to the 151-year-old Royal North Devon links.

He shot seven-under-par 65 on the first day when “the course was as easy as it could be,” to beat the 66 made by Australian Kel Nagle the time a professional tournament was held on the championship course in 1975. But it will not stand as a course record as placing was permitted after heavy rain had delayed the start.

The second round played in high winds offered a completely different test and he slipped to three-over 75. The front nine negotiated into a gale claimed many victims. Only Order of Merit winner Lee Thompson

(Dudsbury) was able to better par to force himself into a play-off after making up four shots on the Welshman.

“It was a slog and so hard today to conclude a tough week,” said Price after he made a winning par four on the 18th in the play-off. “But I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to such a historic course.”

Thompson was the first man eliminated on the par five opening hole as Bebb and Price birdied, but Bebb failed to get up and down from behind the green as Price profited from a 320-yard drive downwind at the end.

Bebb also climbed up the field with one of only three par rounds. He was four over after seven holes but recovered sensationally with five birdies over the final ten holes. He suffered his second play-off disappointment of the season as he lost the Wales Professional Championship to Gary Houston at Radyr.

A play-off could have been unnecessary. Price, who dropped three shots on the front nine and made just one birdie at the 15th, took four to get down from 50-yards on the 17th.