Two talented young amateurs held sway in the annual Sunningdale Foursomes, Greg Payne (Chobham, Surrey) and Jessica Wilcox (Blankney, Lincolnshire) upstaging the professionals to win the prestigious title.
Payne 18, and Wilcox, 20, came through seven gruelling rounds over the Old and New courses, beating tour pros Jamie Little and Liam Bond 3 and 1 in the final.
“The final was our toughest match but we enjoyed the whole week,” said Greg. “I have known Jessica for a few years and we just decided to go out and have fun, there was a big crowd for the final and I had my family watching.”
Jess added: “I’m really buzzing about it, we had so much fun and we both played so well throughout the tournament. I think we only hit two bad shots all week, I didn’t miss a fairway and Greg was straight on to the greens.”
The pair were never taken past the 16th hole in any round up to the final and to make the performance even more special Greg had never played the Sunningdale courses before although Jess was a previous entrant in the event.
After progressing to the semi-finals, the amateurs faced a daunting task against tour pros Simon Wakefield and Ian Pyman and were 1 down after 11 holes. But they staged a fightback and made good use of their shot allowance to run out 3 and 2 winners.
The final was another tough encounter but again the amateurs battled through to write their names on the honours board which reads as a Who's Who of golf. “That’s what I’m most excited about, having my name on the same board as world number one Luke Donald!” said Jess. “I can’t wait to go back next year and see it.”
Payne, a boy international and a member of this year’s England A squad, was a joint winner of the Junior County Champions event at Woodhall Spa in 2011, finished runner-up in the McEvoy Trophy and was Surrey boys champion. He recently finished tied eighth in the Portuguese Amateur.
Jess, who is taking a modern languages degree with the Open University, has spent much of the past nine years in Spain. However, she is a strong competitor on the amateur circuit and has been runner-up in the Abu Dhabi junior championship and twice reached final qualifying for the Women’s British open. She was a member of Lincolnshire’s winning team at the 2011 English County Finals.