Brabazon Trophy: Schmidt defends title against stellar international field

For Ben Schmidt, the next stage of a disrupted golfing summer is reminiscent of the old story about London buses.

He’s been waiting patiently for weeks – and now two double-deckers come into sight at once in the shape of the Brabazon Trophy and the Amateur Championship.

This week it’s the Brab at Sherwood Forest where the 18-year-old will look to defend the title won in some style last year against a stellar field.

Next week the Yorkshireman is off to Royal Birkdale to play in the Amateur Championship.

First up for the Rotherham Golf Club member is the Brabazon – rightly recognised as one of the most prestigious amateur events in world golf.

Last year at the tender age of 16, Schmidt shot four consecutive rounds in the 60s (69,64,69,69) to win by five from a field crammed with national and international talent.

That masterclass at Alwoodley Golf Club allowed Schmidt to claim the secondary honour of the youngest ever winner of the event – taking over the mantle from Sandy Lyle who was 17 when he won the first of his two titles in 1975.

Now Schmidt is back to defend and eager at the prospect of competitive golf against a top-class field.

“I’m excited about the week, but I’m not putting myself under any pressure as last year’s winner,” said Schmidt.

“There’s no point looking back – I have to look ahead.

“Don’t get me wrong – it would be nice to win again. Last year’s win was huge for me at that point in my development.

“But this is a long week and you have to go in with a strong mindset knowing that nothing is own or lost on days one and two.

“I enjoy the tournament structure of four days of 18-hole stroke play rather than some events which require 36 holes in a day and a switch to match play.

“I’ve been working hard in recent weeks on a few things with my swing and really just trying to dial in my wedges – that’s what can make a difference.

“It’s the start of a big two weeks for me – with the Amateur the following week. I’ve never played in that before and after all the problems this year it will be great to play in two such massive events.

“I’m just looking to play well – if I do that I’ll be happy and see where it takes me.”

Until a practice round last week, Schmidt had never been to Sherwood Forest before, but the course is renowned as one of England’s top championship venues.

Matching the surroundings in Nottinghamshire will be the standard of the field.

Although travel restrictions have limited the number of international players, there are still nine different nationalities represented in the field.

Players from Switzerland, Germany, France, Denmark and the Netherlands join the four home nations in the pursuit of success.

England squad players know this is a premier event in the calendar and there are a number of others in good form – none moreso than newly-crowned English Men’s Amateur champion Jack Cope (pictured above).

“I played with Jack at the Tillman Trophy earlier in the summer,” added Schmidt when asked about the Gloucestershire player’s form.

“He’s got a really strong game and he deserved to win the other week.

“The thing about our circuit right now is that there are so many good players that anyone can win on any given week. We all know that the standard is so high.”

Schmidt, though, is a proven winner. He started the year with a victory in the New South Wales Open and a runner-up spot at the Avondale Amateur during a month stint in Australia.

Although disappointed in losing out in the knockout stages of the Men’s Amateur in July, Schmidt (pictured above after last year’s Brabazon victory) is focused on ending the year on a high.

Covid-19 forced him to cancel plans to play in the US Amateur as well as team and individual events in Europe. Hopes of a tilt at the European Tour’s Q-School were also scuppered.

“I’ll be staying amateur into 2021 and see where it goes from there,” admitted Schmidt who is not being held to a career timetable.

“Perhaps I can go back to Australia in January and look to take things on.”

A total of 144 players will tee it up from tomorrow hoping to land their hands on the famous trophy, first played for back in 1947.

Information, tee times, live scoring, features, images and videos can be found on the Brabazon Trophy championship homepage.

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