Smith proves a point with steely Brabazon triumph

2013 winner Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith put the disappointment of not being selected by England for the forthcoming European Team Championships by lifting the Brabazon Trophy in splendid fashion as calm conditions returned to Formby.

After a testing week of rain and wind, Smith carded a closing round of 70 for 286, two under par, and a four shot winning margin over playing partner Brian Casey from Ireland, who returned 74.

Smith led almost from start to finish and his calm, laid-back approach was just what was needed in a week when the elements did everything it could to make things difficult for everyone.

But the victory tasted sweet for the 20 year old from Wiltshire. “I’m over the moon to get my name on the trophy,” he said. I was disappointed not to make the team for the Europeans but I suppose it was a difficult choice,” he said. “But I think not being picked urged me on to prove a point and I’ve played really well this week in difficult conditions.

“I suppose I’ve stopped Neil (Raymond) completing the triple but I’m sure he’ll understand. I think he was left out when he won the Brabazon last year.”

Smith (copyright Leaderboard Photography) began the final round tied with playing partner Casey on level par but the England man was soon forging ahead with three birdies in the opening five holes.

“I made a nervy start, putting my tee shot into the trees but I managed to scramble a par and then got off to a flier with a couple of birdies. I was three under through five holes and settled down.”

He dropped shots at the seventh and ninth, the latter when he airmailed the green into knee-high rough. “I had 205 yards and hit a four iron and couldn’t believe it when it finished over the green.

“But he reduced the damage to one shot to be out in 36 while another birdie at the long 17th confirmed his success.

Casey managed to stay in touch with Smith over the front nine but he came to grief on the homeward stretch, dropping shots at the 12th and 14th before his chance finally eluded his grasp at the 400 yard 15th where he found punishing rough, failed to get out first time, and took a double bogey six.

With so many players in with a shout at the start it was difficult to pick a winner. But several made a brave bid, none more so than fellow international Ben Taylor. The Man from Walton Heath produced the best round of the week with a five-birdie 68, which hauled him up to joint third on 291.

On the same mark were Nathan Kimsey and, Alfie Plant and Jimmy Mullen, whose 71 included a hole-in-one at the 139-yard 16th where he fired an eight iron that never left the flag. “It was my first ‘ace’ in competition but I’d had one before when I was in Australia,” said the young man from Devon.

Raymond, seeking to make history with a third successive victory, finished joint 13th after a closing 74 but was philosophical over losing the title. “I played great this week but didn’t take as many chances as I should have done,” he said.

“There was a lot of pressure on me this week but I started the final round birdie, birdie and felt I was going to post a good number, but the putter let me down. But Jordan is a great lad and is a worthy champion.”

Smith was certainly the man of the week and deserved his success which is bound to lead to greater things. “I played well in the English Amateur last year before getting beaten by the winner Harry Ellis,” Smith added.

“But that started my career with England and I got picked for the Home Internationals.”

Who knows where this latest triumph will take Smith but he has added his name to the championship’s impressive Roll of Honour.

The Henriques Salver for the best score by a player aged under 20 from Britain and Ireland went to Jimmy Mullen while Ryan Evans won the Scrutton Jug for the lowest aggregate from the Brabazon and Berkshire Trophies.