England amateur star Conor Gough will make his European Tour debut at Hillside next week after receiving an invite to participate in the 2019 Betfred British Masters from May 9-12.
The 16-year-old, who won the British Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and Portstewart last year, will be taking the same first steps on the European Tour as this year’s British Masters host Tommy Fleetwood. He made his European Tour debut at the same event in 2008. Fleetwood missed the cut by just one shot after rounds of 75 and 73, so Gough will be hoping to go one better in Southport.
Similarly to Fleetwood, Gough has been a member of a victorious Jacques Léglise Trophy side and is a member of the England Boys’ squad. Fleetwood represented GB&I against Europe in 2007 and again in 2008, helping his side win the trophy on both occasions.
“I’m very excited to play the Betfred British Masters,” said Gough. “I can’t wait to see the European Tour pros play up close and try and compete with some of them. It’ll be a great experience for me and it’ll give me a taste of what the future may hold.
“Having people like Tommy to look up to really gives young English golfers a lot of confidence, knowing that there are players out there who are better than the Europeans or the Americans. It’s very important to have people like Tommy, Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace to name a few to look up to – it gives us the knowledge that it can be done.”
Gough has three victories to his name in the last 12 months, adding the Fairhaven Trophy and Major Champions Invitational to his trophy cabinet alongside his Boys Amateur success – he became the first Englishman to win the Boys Amateur since Matt Fitzpatrick in 2012. He also represented Team Europe at The 2018 Junior Ryder Cup last September. He won England Golf’s Performance of the Year Award for his successes in 2018.
“Before last season I really knuckled down over the winter and did a lot of practice, and that really paid off,” said Gough. “The British Boys Amateur was the most mentally tough week I’ve had in my life, but it was also really fun. Then I had the chance to go to the Junior Ryder Cup, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Having the opportunity to play in the British Masters feels like a reward for the hard work I’ve put in over the last 12 months, I can’t wait to get started.”
Gough may well be the busiest player in the field at Hillside next month. When he is not out on the fairways, he will be studying for his GCSE exams which start later in May.
“It’s going to tough preparing for both,” added Gough. “Most mornings I’ll be revising and then playing golf in the afternoon. When I’m at Hillside, I’ll be revising when I’m not playing golf. I think I’ll manage it – I might be one of the busiest people that week.”
Fleetwood continues the sequence of British players claiming hosting rights since the rebirth of the tournament in 2015.
“Playing the British Masters in 2008 was a great experience for me,” said Fleetwood. “I missed the cut by one shot but I learned so much being around so many great players.
“Hopefully Conor will benefit from his experience in the same way I did and go out and enjoy the week.”
Ian Poulter (2015), Luke Donald (2016), Lee Westwood (2017) and most recently Justin Rose (2018) have all played an important part in the success of the tournament following its reintroduction to the schedule, which had previously been an integral part of the European Tour’s calendar from the Tour’s formation in 1972 through to 2008.
Tickets to the 2019 Betfred British Masters hosted by Tommy Fleetwood at Hillside Golf Club from May 9-12 are available by clicking here. A range of hospitality packages are also available.
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