Essex golfer Curtis Knipes birdied the fourth hole of a sudden-death play-off to win the English Men’s County Champion of Champions title at Woodhall Spa Golf Club.
“It’s been a stressful afternoon!” said the 18th-year-old from Abridge, after his triumph in the three-man play-off.
He had holed a six-footer on the 36th hole of regulation play for a level par total – and to join the play-off alongside Cornwall’s Joe Cruse (St Enodoc) and BB&O’s Olly Huggins (Frilford Heath), who had a heart-breaking double bogey on his last hole.
All three parred the first extra hole, but Huggins dropped out at the next – the 18th – when he couldn’t match the birdies of his two rivals. Knipes and Cruse returned to the 1st which they both birdied, from 30ft and 12ft respectively. Once again they teed up on the 18th and Knipes again birdied the hole, getting up and down from a greenside bunker for victory.
“This is very big for me,” said Knipes, who was a member of England’s winning team at the recent Boys’ Home Internationals. “It’s my second win of the season, it’s an England event and it gets me in to next year’s Brabazon Trophy, so I’m delighted.”
Knipes held a one-shot lead after this morning’s first round of one-under 72. But this afternoon he tested his nerve with “a very strange round!” He had only one par on the outward nine, alongside five birdies and three bogeys. He thought he’d blown his chances with a triple bogey seven on the 13th, but in the topsy-turvy manner of his round, he gave himself another chance with a birdie on 14, only to bogey 15.
He bounced back again with another birdie on 17 and when Huggins’ double bogey on the last opened the door, Knipes took his chance by rolling in that six-footer for par and a place in the play-off.
Knipes will end his season at the North of England open in October and will then prepare to play the amateur circuit full-time next year.
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