Estonia’s Joonas Turba gave himself the perfect 16th birthday present today when he won the McGregor Trophy by a stroke at Burnham & Berrow, Somerset.
“It is a good present for me,” said Turba, who finished the 72-hole tournament on two-over par. “It is my second international title and this is one of the biggest tournaments for under-16s.”
He adds the English U16 boys’ open championship to an earlier success in the Finland U14s and within days he’ll be off to the European Young Masters in Norway to challenge there.
“I am not at home much,” he said after securing his narrow win over Max Hopkins of Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. Robin Williams (Peterborough Milton, Northamptonshire) was a further shot back, followed by Habebul Islam (Ipswich, Suffolk) on five-over and the pair of Enrique Dimayuga (Cuddington, Surrey) and Tom Gregory (Stoke Park, BB&O) on six over.
Turba comes from a tiny golfing country, where there are just nine courses and only one national team, composed of under-18s. Travel is therefore essential to further the competitive ambitions which he hopes will one day lead to a career on Tour.
He dominated the McGregor Trophy, sharing the lead after the first round, falling one shot behind after the second, then resuming top spot in this morning’s third round.
The first two rounds were played in uncharacteristic calm, but today the wind returned to Burnham & Berrow and this was reflected in the scores. Turba had been five under after 36 holes but added 74, 75 today as he contended not just with the conditions, but also Hopkins’ challenge.
The Hertfordshire player made his move with one-under 70 in the third and was just a stroke behind. After nine holes of the final round the pair were tied and Hopkins moved briefly ahead with a birdie on the 12th.
But the momentum swung back to Turba who got two ahead when he birdied 14 while Hopkins bogeyed both that hole and the 15th. The gap narrowed again when Turba had a three putt bogey on the 16th, but he stood on the 18th tee knowing a par would win – and he duly delivered.
His approach rolled through the green but he putted up to within 2.5ft and holed the putt, showing his elation with an emphatic first pump. “The putt was scary, I’ve never had such a tense putt,” he said.
For Hopkins there was the compensation of winning the U15 trophy by three shots from Tom Gregory.