England international Jimmy Mullen was the runaway winner of the Welsh open stroke play championship at Ashburnham – finishing 15-under par and nine shots clear of his closest rivals.
He led the event from start to finish and remarked afterwards: “It’s my biggest win to date, which means a lot, and being in Walker Cup year it’s even better.”
Now, he says, his challenge is to put the win behind him and concentrate on amassing more results to help him make the GB&I team for September’s home match against the USA.
Mullen, from Royal North Devon, set the early tournament pace with a pair of five-under 67s, which saw him share the lead after the first round and hold a one-stroke advantage at the halfway stage.
Then, he charged away from the field: he was four ahead after returning a third-round 70; seven ahead with six holes to play and finally secured his nine-shot victory with a closing 69.
Second place on six-under par was shared by England’s double European champion, Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park), who had a final round 68, and by Ben Westgate of Wales. One shot behind in fourth place were two more English players, Joe Dean (Lindrick) and Nick Marsh (Huddersfield), together with Ireland’s Alex Gleeson.
Mullen (image © Leaderboard Photography) had predicted at the start of the week that the winning score would be double figures under par, but he was surprised by his margin of success. “I knew I had a four shot lead going into the final round, but the course record had already been broken twice in the week and I expected people to come at me. But it didn’t happen.”
The 21-year-old from the England Golf men's squad, added: “I just stuck to what I had been doing in the first three rounds, kept trying to make birdies and hoped it would be good enough in the end.”
“It’s the first time I have led from start to finish and it’s very nice to know I can do that. It’s also good to get back that winning feeling.”
Mullen’s strengths were his determination to stick to his game plan and his accurate driving. “Off the tee I was the best I’ve been all year. I hit a lot of fairways and gave myself the opportunity to hit at the right part of the greens and leave myself birdie chances.”
He was also pleased with his putter over the closing stages, notably holing an eight-footer for bogey on 15 and grabbing the shot straight back by holing a 15-footer for birdie on the 16th. “I didn’t know what the lead was and I thought that could be really crucial,” he said. “It’s really nice to know I can hole putts late on.”
This is Mullen’s second 72-hole win, following his success in the 2014 Duncan Putter, also held in Wales. This season he’s been third in the Duncan Putter and won all four of his games in the recent England v Spain international.
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