Senior Men’s Amateur: Kellock victorious with back-nine flourish

Rupert Kellock held his nerve and holed the crucial putts to march to victory in the English Senior Men’s Amateur Championship.

As befitted a former army officer, Kellock played with military precision on the back nine at Woodhall Spa Golf Club to earn a deserved three shot victory over defending champion Ian Attoe, fellow international Trevor Foster and Maxstoke Park’s Stephen Creed.

His finishing total was two-over par after previous rounds of 70 (Hotchkin) and 76 (Bracken).

The ex-Royal Green Jacket began the final round a shot adrift of three-time winner Attoe and Andrew Smith from Royal Ashdown Forest.

However, a one-over par round of 74 around a baked and windswept Hotchkin Course  allowed Kellock to claim a career highlight.

Kellock – a member at Sunningdale Golf Club – won with a flourish. Birdies at 12, 16 and 18 allowed him to add his own national title to the Welsh title he won in 2018.

After the victory, Kellock admitted: “It’s terribly pleasing and I’m dead chuffed as they would say.

“It’s always great to win anything and to win the national title is fantastic. It’s the largest national title I’ve won and to have beaten Ian Attoe (below) who has dominated this event for five years makes me very proud.

“I hit the ball a lot better than I scored and was quite comfortable as I was hitting the ball so well. The problem was I wasn’t quite sure what the other scores were.

“Anyway, you play one shot at a time and get on with it and the fact was I was hitting the ball really well makes life so much easier – middle of the fairway, middle of the green, two putts and walk on.”

On a day when the wind dominated proceedings and made the front nine particularly treacherous for the leading players, pars were treated like birdies.

Kellock started with three of them, but four dropped shots between the fourth and the tenth holes were a setback.

The nerves were steadied however, with a brilliant iron into the short 12th hole. The ball danced around the hole and finished a foot from the cup.

After that tap-in birdie, Kellock found himself tied for the lead with Accrington’s Foster who had started the day three shots behind the leaders.

Foster had dropped only one shot to par at the turn and a birdie at 13 actually put him a shot clear of Kellock again (pictured below).

But then came Kellock’s nerveless finish capped by a six-foot putt on 18 which caught the right lip of the hole and tumbled for a closing birdie.

Attoe couldn’t quite produce the form of the first two days in order to claim a third title on the spin.

The 61-year-old had been struggling with the putter all week and he couldn’t find the touch on the greens when he needed it most.

Kellock’s closing stretch of holes left him thrilled and in particular the iron play which left him with excellent opportunities for birdies when others were simply grateful for par.

On making birdie at two of the final three holes, Kellock said: “It’s very satisfying as I’d three putted from 20 feet on 14 for a par which was disappointing.

“On 16 I put it to 18 inches and on 18 I had a two-putt birdie. It was a very, very nice way to finish.

“It sounds very good to be introduced as a champion and I’d like to be English national champion again next year as well.”

Next year’s championship will be held at Blackmoor Golf Club and Army Golf Club in Hampshire.

Details, scores and interviews relating to the 2020 English Senior Men’s Amateur Championship can be found on the homepage.

Photography: Leaderboard