Italy’s Andrea Romano won the Carris Trophy in a play-off at West Sussex Golf Club, on a day that combined triumph, drama and disaster.
The triumph belonged to Romano after he conjured up two magnificent up-and-downs. The first was on the 18th to tie with Jean Bekirian of France on eight-under par; the second was to birdie the first play-off hole and win the English U18 boys’ open championship.
“I was really nervous,” said the 17-year-old as he relived his winning putt of around 20ft. “I can’t believe this, it’s my first international championship and I hope not the last.
“I think it will change something in my life after this. In my next tournament I think I will be more aggressive. I would like to win another tournament.”
The drama was provided by the top quality golf of the three players in the final group. Romano, Bekirian and England’s Robin Williams (Peterborough Milton) made a flying start to the final round when they all eagled the first hole.
They followed up with plenty of birdies on the front nine, notably three in a row from Williams which meant he was five-under after five holes and sharing the championship lead with his playing partners on eight under.
The 15-year-old slipped back a couple of shots as he played to the turn, but was still right in contention as he stood on the 12th tee, where the disaster unfolded.
Williams’ shot to the par three went right, into thick rough and heather close to the out of bounds fence. He took a drop, but the ball bounced into a ghastly lie and he could only hack at it, he took another drop, played out and made his way toward an eight, falling back to one-under.
To his enormous credit he played the remaining holes in level par and said afterwards: “My luck wasn’t with me today, but I tried my best and gave it my all – and it was just one hole that messed it up. Overall the week has been great, I handled myself well and I’m looking forward to next week and the English amateur.”
Williams’ misfortune left Romano and Bekirian, 15, to fight it out for the championship. They were both eight under as they left the 12th green but on the next the French player dropped one behind when his approach was bunkered. The combination of the bad lie and the heather-covered bank meant he had to play out wide of the pin.
However, he came straight back, holing 15ft putts for birdie on both the 14th and 16th to take a one shot lead. On the 18th his drive caught a fairway bunker and he couldn’t reach the green so the advantage swung to Romano who was perfectly positioned in the fairway. He tugged his second left and short of the green, but his perfect short game touch secured the par, while Bekirian had to settle for a bogey.
The players set off down the par five first, both going wide and right of the green after two shots. Romano’s pitch finished about 20ft away and, when he was first to putt, he grabbed his chance, holing out to pile on the pressure. Bekirian was unable to match him and the Italian’s team-mates cheered loudly in celebration.
Italy also won the Nations Cup, thanks to Julien Paltrinieri, who finished third overall, and Giovanni Manzoni and Kevin Latchayya, who tied seventh. They were nine-under par, with the best two scores counting over the first two rounds, and six ahead of runners-up England.
Bekirian won the salver presented by the Hazards Golfing Society for the best U16 score, while Williams won the Malcolm Reid Salver for the best combined score in the Carris and Peter McEvoy Trophies.
The best English player was Jack Cope (The Players Club, Gloucestershire) who finished fourth on two-under and commented: “I just struggled to hole the putts but overall I’m pretty satisfied pretty happy.”
Fifth place was shared by Taylor Stote (Enmore Park, Somerset) and Williams.
Images copyright Leaderboard Photography