George Ash and Joe Sullivan will tomorrow have the chance to etch their name alongside some of the greats of the game after winning through to the final of this year’s English Men’s Amateur Championship.
Ash (top image) came through his quarter-final clash with Tyler Weaver courtesy of a 2&1 win before edging a tense encounter with Charlie Forster in the semi-final on the 18th green.
Sullivan’s route to the 36-hole final appeared more straightforward but was no less hard fought. A 5&4 quarter-final win over Luke Poulter was followed by a 4&3 triumph against Matt Gauntlett.
The duo will fight it out over 36 holes of match play tomorrow at Lindrick Golf Club for the right to succeed John Gough as the champion.
Previous winners of the trophy – first competed for in 1925 – include Sir Nick Faldo, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey and Sir Michael Bonallack.
Ash was given great backing throughout the day by members from Hallowes Golf Club who had made the short trip to lend support to the ‘local’ man. Tomorrow he expects even more on the ‘party bus’ from Sheffield!
Sullivan (pictured above), from Royal Ashdown Forest in Sussex, knows that the bulk of the support on Sunday will be for the Yorkshireman.
However, he has shown enough in his play over the week to suggest he has the game to handle the occasion.
For Ash, the final is a reward for some fine play all week.
Before edging out English Under 18 champion Weaver in the quarters and then holding off Forster in the semi, he’d already beaten fellow Yorkshireman George Mason, the top seed from the stroke play Sam Easterbrook and Chelmsford’s Ben Humphrey.
Sullivan’s passage to the final has involved wins against Enville’s Jake Walley, Carl Banner from Beaconsfield and England international Arron Edwards-Hill before taking the scalps of Poulter and then Gauntlett on day five of the championship.
Ash’s semi-final hinged on two moments of drama on the back nine. With the match all square, Forster’s three-foot putt for a win on 15 horseshoed and stayed above ground.
On the 17th, a pushed approach from Forster allowed Ash to win the hole with a par and take a lead which he was able to maintain despite a nervy bogey on the 18th.
Ash admitted: “It feels like relief – it was getting nervy!
“On 15, he pulled a bad lie off the tee and then got a horseshoe so it was an unlucky hole for him and I’m not complaining about it!”
For the final, Ash will have a new caddie. Throughout the match play, girlfriend Mia Eales-Smith, a member at Lindrick, has been on the bag.
Tomorrow, England international Sam Bairstow will return the favour for the mate who carried his bag at the last two Open Championships at Royal St George’s and St Andrews!
Ash added: “Mia, my girlfriend, has been caddying all week but she’s got to head up to final qualifying for the AIG Women’s Open at North Berwick.
“I thought I’d draft Sam in and he’s agreed to do it, so hopefully he’ll keep doing it.
“When I sit down, I’ll be looking forward to the final, I know it’s an achievement getting to the final and there’s just one more match between me and the trophy.”
For Sullivan, a place in the final has come as a welcome surprise after a difficult year when his form on return from college in Jacksonville has not lived up to expectations.
On being asked to describe his feelings at making the final, he replied honestly: “If someone had told me that at the start of the week, I wouldn’t have believed it.
“I’m very chuffed.
“The season hasn’t been amazing since I’ve been home – lots of swing changes and they have come together this week which has been helpful. I’m enjoying it.
“I’m excited to play in the final – hopefully, I can lift that trophy tomorrow afternoon.”
- The players tee off tomorrow morning for their first round at 8.30am and spectators are welcome to attend.