Laird Shepherd and John Gough are hoping to add to their summer of success by contending at this week’s Brabazon Trophy.
Shepherd became The R&A’s Amateur champion with a sensational comeback win against fellow Englishman Monty Scowsill at Nairn.
Having been seven down at lunch and then four down with four holes to play, the Rye golfer won the 36-hole final at the second extra hole.
A few weeks later Gough emulated younger brother Conor when he lifted the famous silver trophy as English Men’s Amateur champion with a final hole triumph against 17-year-old Tom Addy at Moortown.
Both champions now come together at Ganton Golf Club for the start of this year’s eagerly anticipated English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship and have their eyes firmly fixed on the Brabazon Trophy that goes to the winner.
Ahead of final practice, Shepherd looked ahead to Thursday’s opening round and said: “It’s nice to be back playing one event that’s always been on my schedule and to be back at a big amateur championship like the Brabazon where hopefully I can compete.
“I played the 2016 English Amateur here at Ganton and it was really tough even though I made it to last 16.
“I enjoyed the course – a tough track suits me.
“It’s fair to say that expectation levels have risen after my win at the Amateur. Every tournament I enter I want to do well and win and that’s the aim again this week.”
Shepherd arrives in Yorkshire off the back of two weeks playing on the European Tour at Fairmont St Andrews and then the London Club.
And he hopes to take some lessons into this championship.
He added: “I’ve learned a lot. Whether it’s too soon or not to make those changes we’ll see. I’m pretty tired but I’ll be fine for Thursday and enjoy playing this great golf course.
“I took a bunch of things from the last two week playing with more experienced guys on Tour such as Marcel Siem and Soren Kjeldsen. From 150 yards these guys are good and then they don’t miss from 10 feet.
“To see how they move and operate is great – I picked up as many little things as possible. A few things I can take into this week, others will take longer to integrate.”
Gough, meanwhile, has enjoyed the past few weeks admiring the spoils of his victory at the English Men’s Amateur.
“It’s been good having the trophy at home,” he said with pride.
“I’ve had a bit of practice and a couple of tournaments and I’m feeling pretty good at the minute.
“The course is great and I hope to have another big week.
“It’s a beautiful golf course and it rewards good shots – I like that kind of course.
“I’d say in the past stroke play has been my strong point. I’m excited for this week.
“Apart from knowing my brother doesn’t have anything over me, the best thing about winning the English Amateur is just having the confidence knowing I can be a champion.”
And the chances of being English Amateur champion and Brabazon winner in one summer?
“That would be pretty unreal,” added Gough.
“Conor’s not done that so I’d better get going at it!”
The trophy will be decided over 72 holes of stroke play with 18 holes played on each of the four competition days.
Ganton is one of English golf’s gems – a 7016 yard, par 71 track that is in immaculate condition for this week’s championship.
A 36-hole cut will take place with the leading 60 competitors and ties making it through to the final two rounds.
A re-draw will be done after day three ahead of the final round with players going out in ascending order.
If, similar to 2020, there is a tie at the end of 72 holes, then a sudden death play-off will decide the winner.
In 2020, Frenchman David Ravetto emerged from a three-man play off with Denmark’s Christopher Bring and Ireland’s Mark Power to claim the win.
It had been an eventful week for Ravetto (pictured above) who started the week sleeping in his car while he tried to sort out accommodation!
This year, 132 golfers will tee it up for the 75th staging of the famous event and the chance to follow in the footsteps of previous winners such as Charl Schwartzel, Gordon Brand Jnr, Sandy Lyle and Sir Michael Bonallack.
Ganton is no stranger to top level amateur and professional events.
Founded in 1891, the club hosted the Ryder Cup in 1949, the Curtis Cup in 2000 and the Walker Cup in 2003.
It has been a host venue for the Brabazon Trophy on four previous occasions – 2006, 1987, 1960 and 1952.
The ornate gold trophy – dating back to 1948 – goes to the winner and there is an additional trophy up for grabs in the shape of the George Henriques Salver awarded to the leading GB&I player in the championship under the age of 20.
Last year Yorkshire’s Barclay Brown claimed this honour after finishing in a tie for fourth place.
Photography credit: Leaderboard