Fit-again Chesters retains European title

Ashley Chesters European Champion

Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park, Shropshire & Herefordshire) became the first player to successfully defend the European Amateur Championship when he completed back-to-back victories over the breezy Duke’s Course at St Andrews.

Chesters, the first Englishman to win the European crown in nine years when he won by a shot a year ago at El Prat in Spain, carded a final round 69 for 282, two under par, and a three stroke winning margin from Max Roehrig from Germany and Ireland’s Gary Hurley.

What made Chesters’ victory all the more remarkable was that a few days earlier he had withdrawn from the first round of the English Amateur Championship at Saunton with food poisoning.

The Shropshire man, (image © Kenny Smith) who will turn 25 on August 25th, now earns automatic entry into next year’s Open Championship at St Andrews, having missed the cut by a shot this year at Hoylake.

However, it leaves him with a decision to make as he has been thinking of turning professional and going to the European Tour Qualifying School next month. “I’m going to have to have a think,” said Chesters.

“The Open at St Andrews would be hard to turn down, and it’s one of my favourite courses. I enjoyed Hoylake so much, as The Open is special. I’ve had worse problems (to think about).”

Among the 18 groups who returned early on Saturday morning to complete their third rounds after Friday’s weather delay due to torrential rain, thunder and lightning, Chesters finished his remaining 12 holes and posted a fine two-under-par 69 to hit the front on three under par after 54 holes in Fife, securing a three-stroke lead.

On a pleasant final afternoon – despite gusts of wind that reached 30 mph at times – Chesters produced a steady closing round, holding off the challenge of Roehrig, Hurley and Italian Enrico Di Nitto.

Chesters “hardly hit a bad shot” over the opening 16 holes of his final round, securing a five-shot lead with two holes to play thanks to birdies at the 15th and 16th. However, he four-putted the par-3 17th for a double bogey, before making bogey on the last to see his winning margin cut to three.

On a demanding final day, he played 30 holes in total. England international Chesters, the only player to finish under par, added: “I played good all day, until those last two holes, but I knew I had some shots in hand, thankfully. There are a lot of good names on the trophy and to have won it twice is amazing.”

Leading final scores:

282 A Chesters (Hawkstone Park) 69 72 69 72

285 M Roehrig (Germany) 70 72 72 71, G Hurley (Ireland) 66 72 76 71

Other England scores:

287 B Stow (Rushmore) 67 71 76 73

290 H Casey (Enfield) 73 72 74 71, T Anderson (Brocket Hall) 74 69 71 76

291 R Evans (Wellingborough) 73 73 73 72, D Brown (Bedale) 69 76 74 72, A Chapman (Windermere) 71 72 79 69