South Africa’s Kyle McClatchie gave himself the perfect 20th birthday present when he won the Brabazon Trophy after a closely fought final round at Woodhall Spa Golf Club.
He finished on 10-under par, after getting up and down from a bunker to birdie the last hole and hang on to his slender one-shot lead.
Chasing him to the finish line were the England pair of Jack Singh Brar and Jake Burnage, together with Scotland’s Jamie Stewart who hurtled up the leaderboard with a closing round of five-under 68. They shared second place on nine-under.
McClatchie becomes the first South African to win the English men’s amateur open stroke play title since Charl Schwartzel in 2002. He went on to win The Masters so who knows what lies in store for the new winner?
“This is just amazing, I can’t believe it’s actually happened,” said McClatchie, who had put birthday celebrations on the back burner until after the golf.
“I’ve been working my whole life for something like this and all the hard work has paid off.”
McClatchie, from Serengeti Golf Club, set off on today’s final round on eight-under and tied for the lead with Singh Brar (Remedy Oak, Dorset) and Burnage (Saunton, Devon) – and with a four shot cushion over the rest of the field.
Over the opening holes they jostled for the lead and the advantage passed from player to player as they picked up or dropped shots. But McClatchie opened up a two-shot lead with a birdie on the 12th and from then on there was no budging him as he worked his way to a score of two-under 71.
Singh Brar reduced the gap to one shot with his own birdie on 12 but, try as he might, he couldn’t hole the necessary putts to move ahead. He needed an eagle on the last to tie but, again, the putt refused to drop and he settled for a closing 72. “I feel robbed of it,” he said afterwards. “I hit some good shots in but I didn’t hole anything. But it’s a good result and I’d have taken it at the start of the week.”
Burnage appeared to drop out of contention when he slipped to six-under after 13 holes, but he kept his foot down and was rewarded with three closing birdies to return 72 and join the tie for second place. He was partnered with Singh Brar and said: “We both played all right and we spurred each other along, but we didn’t hole the putts. It’s sore for now but second in the Brabazon isn’t that bad, is it.”
Meanwhile, Stewart was charging up the leaderboard. He started the day on four-over and looked to be out of it after two bogeys in the first three holes. But he played the rest of the round in seven under with a particularly impressive birdie on 18. His second shot finished on a downhill bunker slope but he deftly flipped the ball to within 2ft of the hole.
He played the last 36 holes in 11-under par and said: “It really kicked off over the last two rounds and I almost got into a tie, but I couldn’t have done any more and, fair play to Kyle, he played great and was a deserving winner.”
England A Squad player Matthew Jordan (Royal Liverpool) was fifth on seven-under after a closing 70. English amateur champion Dan Brown (Masham) finished on five-under.
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Caption: Top, Kyle McClatchie with the Brabazon Trophy.