Championship play-off victory for Kent’s Kelso

Jacob Kelso

Kent’s Jacob Kelso won a four-hole play-off to triumph in the weather-hit English Boys’ County Champion of Champions tournament at Woodhall Spa. 

The tournament was reduced to 18 holes after torrential rain flooded the greens on the Hotchkin course, leaving Kelso (Kings Hill) and Staffordshire’s Ollie Read tied on three-under par. 
 
They returned to the course after the rain delay to do sudden-death battle, up and down the 1st and 18th – and for three holes there was nothing to separate them. 
 
They started with birdies on the 1st where Kelso holed out from about 15ft and Read followed him in from 9ft. They both parred the 18th before returning to the 1st where Kelso hit his approach to within a foot, asking a stern question of Read. The Staffordshire player had the answer, however, slotting a 12-footer and, once again, they both birdied the hole.  
 
The second visit to the 18th proved the decider. Read’s drive plugged in a bunker bank and he could only advance it a few feet before chipping out on to the fairway. It handed the advantage to Kelso and although he also found the thick, wet rough with his second shot, he held on to claim the title. 
 
Kelso, 16, commented: “This means a lot. It’s my third win of the season and the biggest of my playing career so far – and in an England event.” 
 
It was his first play-off and he added: “I didn’t know what to expect so I stuck to my game plan of hitting fairways and greens and holing the odd putt here and there.” 
 
It was a policy which stood him in good stead in regulation play. He was out in the first group, enjoyed the good omen of having the No 1 player number, and was four under after 10 holes. He dropped a couple of shots at the start of the back nine but had another birdie on 15, setting the target for the rest of the field with his 70. 
 
“In the conditions it was one of my best rounds of the year,” said Kelso, whose putting was in great shape. 
 
Yorkshire’s Alex Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire) and Worcestershire’s Joe Price (Hagley) challenged strongly with scores of two-under 71, but only Read (Branston), playing at the end of the field, was able to match him with a bogey free-round. 
 
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