Puente will defend the McGregor Trophy

Ignacio Puente

Spain’s Ignacio Puente will defend the McGregor Trophy next week at Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club in Sussex – and can expect a strong English challenge.

Puente, who has just turned 16, won the title last year at Wallasey, Cheshire, when he birdied the first hole of a three-way play-off.

The 2016 English U16 boys’ open stroke play championship has, as usual, attracted a top-quality field from England and across Europe. The 144 players who will tee off on the first round on Tuesday, July 12, will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of past winners such as Justin Rose and Edoardo Molinari.

Among those who can be expected to launch a strong title challenge are the England U16 internationals Harry Goddard of Hanbury Manor, Hertfordshire; James Cooper of Cumberwell Park, Wiltshire; and Charlie Daughtrey of Rotherham, Yorkshire.

Michael Gilbert of Chelmsford, Essex, will arrive at the championship in fine form having just won the Henry Cooper Junior Masters at eight-under par.

Meanwhile other players who have recently been selected to represent England in Nations Cup events include Hugo Kedzlie of Spalding, Lincolnshire; Charlie Salter from Northamptonshire County and Charlie Hilton of Ifield, Sussex. Another Sussex player, Oliver Smith, will represent the host club.

There are two past winners of the U14 Reid Trophy in the field: Harry Bigham of Redbourn, Hertfordshire, who won in 2014, and last year’s champion, Alexandre Lasalarie of France.

The championship will be played on the Old Course at Royal Ashdown Forest, which is described as heathland golf at its finest, calling for accuracy and inventive shot-making.

All competitors will play 36 holes over the first two days of the championship. The field will then be cut to the leading 40 players and ties who will play the final 36 holes on Thursday, July 14.

Picture caption: Ignacio Puente and other Spanish players celebrate his win in the 2015 McGregor Trophy (image © Leaderboard Photography)