World number 10 Scott Gregory has won the New South Wales Amateur Championship in Australia in a superb, all-England final against Marco Penge.
The 22-yeard-old edged home with a 1up win on the 36th hole of a remarkable match which saw many holes won or halved in birdie.
Gregory, the Amateur Champion, took charge early on and was four up after 18 holes. But Penge, who was still four down with 11 holes to play, staged a determined fightback, picking away at the lead and getting back to all square after 32 holes.
The players matched shot for shot until the 35th where Gregory holed a 25-footer for par and a one-up lead; then his par on the last gave him the title.
“It was tense because I was hitting good shots and not getting anything, but at the same time Marco was holing lovely putts and got us back to square! Then I knew I had to dig in and get across the line,” said Gregory.
“The four-footer for par on the last to win was a strange one, any other time I would have celebrated, but it didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel that celebrating was the respectful thing to do as you’ve seen how hard the other guy has worked for four weeks to get here. But we both enjoyed a great final!”
Gregory, from Corhampton in Hampshire, and Penge, from Golf at Goodwood in Sussex, were part of a four-man squad representing England Golf on a tour of Australia.
They’ve been room-mates for the trip and playing each other wasn’t easy. Gregory commented: “It was very hard, we’ve spent four weeks helping each other with swing videos and advice, words of support and just being there when needed and then suddenly you’re faced against each other with a tournament on the line!
“We had our moments of chat and then toward the end things got tense and Marco showed why he has won so much. He didn’t give in and kept picking away at my lead, but eventually I managed to sneak ahead with that 25 foot par putt on 17.”
Gregory’s experience in winning the Amateur Championship counted. “It helped me a lot, it helped me in not being so nervous going in, and also throughout the match. It was never going to be as high pressured as winning the Amateur but it was tough in playing Marco, who I know had a massive length advantage off the tee.”
He added: “This means a lot, as does any win, you don’t take them for granted as it’s not an easy thing to do. I think it proves again that I can play at that level, I’m getting myself out there and getting used to feeling the pressure of needing to win.”
Penge, meanwhile, was philosophical. The 18-year-old told Golf NSW: “Scott played great; he’s probably number one in the world at match play, I couldn’t have got a harder game really. I was proud of myself just to get it back to one down in the end really.”
Gregory and Penge were joined on the trip by Bradley Moore (Kedleston Park, Derbyshire) and Alfie Pant (Sundridge Park, Kent). This was their last event and Gregory commented: “The experience has been phenomenal, I’ve met some amazing people and seen some great places and it’s given me a great springboard to work from for the rest of the season. I can’t thank England Golf enough for giving me this opportunity to showcase myself in another country, it’s been amazing.”
Now he’s looking forward to getting home, resting and seeing his family, girlfriend and coach – before preparing for April and a date in The Masters.
Gregory joins a list of names on the 118-year old NSW Amateur Championship trophy that includes 2005 US Open Champion Michael Campbell. Paul Howard was the most recent English winner, lifting the trophy in 2015.