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Locked-In Locke Wins Scottish Amateur

by Colin Callander - August 07, 2017

Sam Locke stormed to the biggest success of his career when he thrashed Ryan Lumsden, 9 and 8, in the 36-hole final of the Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship at Prestwick.

The 18-year-old from Banchory birdied five of the last eight holes in the morning to go into lunch 10 up on his luckless opponent. Lumsden, a 20-year-old from Royal Wimbledon, briefly battled back to 8 down at the 23rd but Locke fired back-to-back birdies on the 24th and 25th before sealing a remarkable victory a few holes later.

The victory earned Locke a place alongside Lumsden in Scotland’s team for next month’s Men’s Home Internationals while he also equalled Colin Montgomerie’s margin of victory against Alasdair Watt in 1987.

“Montgomerie is not a bad guy to follow in the footsteps of,” admitted former boy international Locke, who came into the event well outside the top 1,000 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. “I wouldn’t mind his career. I played really solid this morning. I didn’t really do much wrong, holed a few putts and, whenever you do that, you are going to be pretty hard to beat in match play.

“It’s nice to finally get a big win under my belt and hopefully I can kick on from here and enjoy more success.

“I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and practise hard.”

The new champion went on to praise Paul Lawrie for the contribution the 1999 Open champion has made to his development.

“Paul has been brilliant for me, since I was about 14,” he said. “He got me into his foundation and has helped me with all parts of my game, as well as the mental side. It’s great to pick up the phone and ask him anything when I need to.

“Banchory have also been brilliant, done a lot for me as a club since a young age and it was great to have people down supporting me today, including my dad (Andrew).”

Lumsden produced one of the shots of the championship when he closed out fellow international Craig Ross with an ace on the 20th hole of their fourth-round match but against Locke he was never at the races.

“It was just one of those days,” he said. “I didn’t hit it as good as I’ve hit it this week and I found myself in the semi-rough a lot of times and did a poor job of controlling the ball from there.

“My putting was also very poor but Sam played just great golf,” he added. “He made every putt he looked at, it seemed like, and shot a great score in the morning. In the afternoon, I was mentally a little better and more aggressive, but it was his day. The score says it all and he deserved to win. He was better than me today.”

Todd Clements survived a brave fightback by opponent Jack Gaunt to win the English Amateur Championship at The Berkshire.

Clements, a 20-year-old from Braintree in Essex, was 5 up after 21 holes but Gaunt, from Drayton Park in Staffordshire, won five of the next six holes to square the match before Clements battled back to win, 2 and 1, and claim the first national title of his career.

“It’s unbelievable,” Clements said. “There were lots of highs and lows. While Jack was staging his fightback, I was thinking I mustn’t embarrass myself. It’s all been a bit of a blur.”

It turned out to be a poor week for the big names in the field although 2016 Amateur champion Scott Gregory (Corhampton) did make it through to the last eight before bowing out to Tom Sluman (Taunton & Pickeridge). Defending champion Dan Brown (Masham) lost to fellow provisional Walker Cup squad member Bradley Moore (Kedleston Park) in the third round and Moore himself also exited later in the day when he lost to Nick Poppleton (Wath).

The poor run of Goodwood’s Marco Penge continued when he missed the cut after the 36-hole stroke-play qualifier but he had the consolation of then travelling to Kingsbarns, where he caddied for his girlfriend English international Sophie Lamb, as she won the Smyth Salver as leading amateur at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Another casualty during qualifying was Saunton’s Jack Burnage, who the week before had mounted a late bid for a Walker Cup place by winning the South of England Open Amateur Championship at Walton Heath.

At the start of the week Castle Royle’s David Langley shot 14-under-par 129 to top the leaderboard at the end of the stroke-play qualifier.

Langley began his challenge with a remarkable 10-under 61 over The Berkshire’s Blue course and then added a 68 over the Red to finish three shots ahead Hindhead’s David Corben, with Clements, Sloman and Wynyard’s Andrew Wilson sharing third place on 9-under 134.

Jack Davidson increased his chances of earning a late call-up for the GB&I Walker Cup team after winning the Welsh Amateur Championship for the first time.

Davidson (Llanwern) was drafted into the provisional Walker Cup squad after a brace of victories at the Spanish International Amateur and the European Nations Cup (individual and team) but his form had tailed off during the summer before he bounced back with an impressive victory at Aberdovey.

Davidson began the event by finishing tied fourth in stroke-play qualifying behind 2014 champion Evan Griffith (Conwy). He went on to beat Theo Baker (Celtic Manor), 6 and 5; last year’s champion Zach Galliford (Borth & Ynyslas), 3 and 2; Shaun Harpin (Rhos-on-Sea), 3 and 2; and Griffith by two holes before claiming an 8-and-7 victory against Tim Harry in the 36-hole final.

David Boote, the 2015 Welsh champion, missed his national championship to compete in the Western Amateur at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Illinois, where he finished T52 and failed to advance to the 16-player match-play stage after posting rounds of 68, 73, 75 and 74. Scottish Walker Cup hopeful Liam Johnston narrowly missed out on qualifying for match play at the Western after inishing T18 with rounds of 72, 66, 68 and 71.

The GB&I team for the Walker Cup is due to be announced on 21 August on completion on the US Amateur Championship.

Bel Wardle defied gale-force wind to claim her first national title, the English Girls’ Championship at Littlestone in Kent. The conditions were such that it was difficult to take a stance, let alone hit a ball, but that did not stop the 17-year-old English international carding a third-round 1-under-par 72. That proved to be more than enough to clinch the title when officials opted to abandon the fourth round because of the conditions.

Wardle, from Prestbury Golf Club in Cheshire, opened the championship with a 69 and then added a 71 before her closing 72, which was three shots better than the next-best score of the round, recorded by Ebonie Lewis, from Knowle. With a 7-under-par aggregate of 212, Wardle finished seven shots ahead of runner-up Martha Lewis, from St George’s Hill. Woburn’s Megan Dennis claimed third place on 3-over-par 222 and Roehampton’s Annabell Fuller fourth, a further shot behind.

Wardle’s victory made up for her letting the same title slip from her grasp 12 months before.

“Last year I led after two rounds and kind of blew it in the third round,” she said. “I went out there today so determined not to let that happen again. I didn’t want that sinking feeling again.

“I knew I could compete, but this was about getting over the line for my first win and it does so much for my confidence. It shows me I can do it, I really can do it.”

Wardle’s plan had been to get off to a quick start, and that is exactly what she did when she drove the irst green and holed a 3-foot putt for an eagle. She went on to birdie the next two holes to get to 10 under for the championship before parring her way to the turn and then limiting the damage over the treacherous inward half.

“It was so tough coming in,” she said. “On the 10th I started wondering how I could get the club back in the wind and we were only just making the fairway. When you were over the ball it was a matter of taking whatever stance you could and giving it a go.

“I just kept things simple, I didn’t go pin-hunting, I just tried to hit greens and control my shots into the greens.”

Wardle’s next competitive outing comes this week when she will be representing her country at the Girls’ Home Internationals at Little Aston, near Birmingham. Then it’s off to the British Girls’ Championship, an event in which she was runner-up last year.

Albane Valenzuela heads a strong European contingent at this week’s US Women’s Amateur Championship at the San Diego Country Club.

Also exempt are last year’s losing finalist Virginia Elena Carta, 2016 Ladies’ British Open Amateur champion Julia Engström, Curtis Cup player Alice Hewson, Valenzuela’s Swiss compatriot Kim Métraux and Denmark’s Puk Lyng Thomsen.

They will be joined by French trio Agathe Laisné, Pauline Roussin-Bouchard and Mathilde Claisse, who occupied the top three spots in a qualifier at Williamsburg, Virginia, and by their compatriot, Shannon Aubert, who earned a place after a play-off at the qualifier in Roswell, Georgia.

Neither 2016 champion, Eun Jeong Seong nor world No. 1 Leona Maguire were slated to compete because both played at last week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open.

One hundred fifty-six players contest a 36-hole stroke-play qualifier with the leading 64 progressing to the match-play stage. Twelve months ago, 16-year-old Seong became the first player to win both the US Girls’ Junior and US Women’s Amateur titles in the same calendar year when she beat Italy’s Carta by one hole in the 36-hole final. Seong also won the 2015 US Girls’ title.

The R&A and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation have introduced a new Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, to be played for the first time over the Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore next February.

The winner of the tournament will earn an invitation to play in two major championships, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the ANA Inspiration, as well as the HSBC Women’s Champions, the region’s leading women’s golf tournament, being played the following week on the same course at Sentosa.

The introduction of the new women’s event brings the Asian women’s amateur game into line with the men’s, with the men’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship having been contested since 2009.

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said, “One of our overriding objectives is to identify opportunities to further develop and grow women’s amateur golf in key regions around the world.

“The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific offers the chance for the region’s best amateur golfers to aspire to compete at the highest level. We have seen how successful the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has been in providing a springboard for the elite men’s amateurs and we look forward to replicating this success in unearthing the emerging talents of the women’s game in future.”

The format for the championship will be 72 holes of stroke play with 86 players being invited to participate from member countries of the APGC based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

A maximum of six players from any one country can compete, with the exception of the host nation, which receives an additional four invitations.

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