A superb round of 69, containing eight birdies, saw Billy Watson secure the Junior County Champions title for Hampshire over the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, ending a two-year domination by Lincolnshire golfers.
His 36-hole aggregate of 142, four under par, was five strokes ahead of runner-up, Gian-Marco Petrozzi from Staffordshire, his playing partner, and six clear of Essex champion Taylor Carter.
“Although I won the Hampshire Boys Championship, this is my biggest victory as it is a national title,” said Watson. “It is a big achievement for me and a great boost. It also gets me automatic entry into next year’s Brabazon Trophy and hopefully on to better things.”
Watson (image © Leaderboard Photography), the 18-year-old son of former European Tour professional Scott Watson, started his second round one shot off the lead held by Lincolnshire’s Sam Done. But he was soon setting a hot pace.
“I was fighting a left pull on my long irons this morning so before I went out this afternoon I spent some time in the net with my dad and he put me right,” added Watson.
“This afternoon was fun. I started well with a birdie at the first from six feet and I missed chances at the next two holes. But I birdied the sixth and bogeyed the seventh to be out in 36 but I had six birdies on the back nine. “This win will take a while to sink in. It was good to have dad on the bag, not necessarily for tips but for his support.”
While most of the field were struggling with the Hotchkin’s tough challenge, Watson, who stands 6ft 6ins, made it look easy. He had birdies at the tenth, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th while bogeys at 12 and 15, both to three putts, kept him on an even keel.
He and Petrozzi were in the last group on the course and the Staffordshire youngster also beat the par with his five-birdie 71 for 147.
Carter, who won all six of his games for Essex in the recent English Boys County Championship, added a level-par 73 to his opening 75 for third place on 148.
“I started poorly with a double bogey at the second after getting a bad lie in a bunker,” said the 18 year old from Rochford. “But I played O.K. but didn’t hole a thing. I had a lot of chances but couldn’t get the ball to drop. But I finished well with an eagle at 18, hitting my hybrid to eight feet.”
Although Cheshire boy champion Max Rogers finished down the field he had the satisfaction of securing his first ever hole-in-one. It came at the 209-yard eighth hole when he sank his five iron tee shot.
“I didn’t see the ball go in but the pitch mark was about ten feet in front of the hole so I assume it rolled in from there,” said the 17 year old from the Astbury club. “I’ve never had an ace before and I needed it today. It made up for a bogey at that hole this morning.