Harley Smith and Rachel Gourley have been crowned champions at this year’s Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship.
It proved to be a glorious three days for the England squad members who triumphed at the event sponsored by Ryder Cup legend and former US Open champion Rose – himself a winner of the boys’ event in 1997 prior to a glittering professional career on both the European and PGA tours.
Smith, still only 16, stormed to a 13-shot victory in the boys’ event at Walton Heath Golf Club helped by a nine-under par final round 63.
It was another stunning win for the teenager who earlier this year joined Rose as the only golfer to win both the McGregor and Carris trophies in the same season some 24 years after the feat was first achieved.
Gourley’s triumph was equally well deserved, but far more tense.
The 17-year-old from Northumberland edged out friend and England team-mate Lottie Woad by a single shot to claim the girls’ title after closing her week with a one under par round of 73.
Both winners drew praise from host Rose who said: “Congratulations to Harley and Rachel on getting their names up in lights today and for managing their game around a technical and difficult golf course.
“I hope this will act as a springboard and a spur to go on to greater achievements in the future.
“I am certainly invested in keeping a close eye on their progress in the future – as I will with all the finalists – and I hope the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Championship has played a vital part in their development.”
Smith was in unstoppable form as he carded an impressive seven birdies and an eagle during a quite brilliant closing round on the Old Course at Walton Heath.
Perhaps Smith was inspired by the stunning surroundings at a venue that has hosted the Ryder Cup, played host to several European Tour events and which will host the AIG Women’s Open in 2023.
Whatever the reason, his form over the final two rounds could not be matched as he finished on a staggering 16 under par total and well clear of another two young Englishmen, Surrey’s Kris Kim and Angus Buchanan from Northumberland.
After opening with a two under par round of 70, Smith admitted that he wasn’t playing his best until finding something on the back nine of his second round.
A round of 67 put him clear of Buchanan going into the final round before he then put his foot to the accelerator to race clear with his sparkling final 18 holes of the championship.
Kim, winner of England Golf’s Reid Trophy earlier this summer, is only 14 but is clearly an emerging talent to watch out for in the years to come.
And although he couldn’t match Smith’s phenomenal birdie haul around his home track of Walton Heath there were plenty positives to take from the event for the youngster who has a bright future ahead of him.
Buchanan, from Close House, can also take pride from three rounds of 68, 72 and 73.
In the girls’ event, it developed into a bit of a ding-dong battle between friends and England team-mates Gourley and Lottie Woad.
Gourley completed a wire-to-wire victory with a one under par final round of 73 to complement the scores of 70 and 74 shot on the opening two days.
In the end, Gourley finished on five under par, a single shot clear of Farnham’s Woad and three clear of Alex Phelps from Woking after a rollercoaster finish to the event.
Having birdied holes 15, 16 and 17, Gourley held a five shot lead playing the 18th (pictured above).
However, a quadruple bogey eight almost opened the door for Woad to walk through.
Gourley, though, did enough to hang onto top spot.
Earlier this year Gourley won the medal for leading stroke play qualifier at The R&A Girls’ Amateur Championship at Fulford Golf Club (notching a course record in the process), and this latest win rounded off the season nicely for the teenager.
In August, Gourley also helped England’s juniors win the Home Internationals, so there is plenty for the Arcot Hall golfer to build on going into 2022.
For Woad – a five-time winner this season – it was another event that highlighted her growing reputation. She may reflect on a costly triple bogey to end her second round, but the good golf either side of this blip should be uppermost in the Surrey golfer’s mind as she takes it forward into the winter and next season.
Smith and Gourley continue the good run of England Golf squad players in this event.
The winning pair follow in the footsteps of Ben Schmidt and Mimi Rhodes who took the title the last time this event was played at Quinta Do Lago in 2019.