Jamie Bower struck yet another blow for Yorkshire by winning the Brabazon Trophy by a stroke in a thrilling final round at London Golf Club.
The Meltham golfer shot two-under par 70 to finish on 12-under, pipping long-time leader Cameron Davis, whose title challenge fizzled out with an untimely three putt on the final hole.
Bower with the trophy
The final round of the English men’s open stroke play championship had everything: brilliant shots, missed opportunities, upsets, nail-biting tension – and a dramatic suspension of play when the leaders, locked at 12-under par, were both on the 18th green and waiting to putt.
A violent thunderstorm forced the last group off the course and when they returned Bower two-putted for par and victory, while Australia’s Cameron Davis missed a short one which would have taken the title battle into a play-off.
Howley Hall’s Ben Hutchinson was also a trophy winner, capturing the Scrutton Jug for the best combined score in the Berkshire and Brabazon Trophies. Hutchinson is the cousin of former European Tour player Danny Denison and has really come of age after winning the Yorkshire Open at his home club in May.
His seven under par 72 hole total of 281 saw him finish alone in sixth place, a performance which is sure to have caught the eye of the England selectors.
Bower’s victory was watched by his grandparents, Tony and Jean, and his girlfriend Olivia Stephenson and afterwards he described it as: “The biggest win of my life by an absolute mile. It means everything, I can’t express it, I’m just delighted.
“But I feel really bad for Cameron, he played really well and it was awful for that to happen on the 18th. No-one wants to see that and you would rather win it by holing a putt.”
Davis had led the championship for the first three rounds and was two ahead going into the final round. But after two holes, Bower had closed the gap and, when he holed a 20-footer on the fourth he went ahead.
He immediately dropped back with the first of his upsets, when his second to the long fifth went in the water guarding the green and he walked off with a double bogey to Davis’s birdie.
Passing the lead to and fro was a feature of the round. Bower edged ahead on the short 11th with a superb tee shot which finished 2ft from the pin; Davis caught him with a birdie on 12 and they stayed tied until the 16th – and another upset for Bower.
His tee shot flew right into deep rough and, although he was able to play out, he bogeyed the hole and slipped a shot behind with two to play.
Undaunted he produced his shot of the round, firing the ball to within 2ft of the pin on the short 17th for his sixth birdie of the day.
The rivals were back on level terms and it was on to the 18th for the finale, which brought Bower his title.
The win marks a triumphant return to top form for Bower, who claimed two victories in an early-season tour of South Africa. For the last couple of months he’s felt his performance was “very average” but has worked successfully with his swing coach, Alan Thompson of Heswall.
“He has been absolutely instrumental,” said Bower.
It also continues a superb run by England internationals, following Alfie Plant’s win in the Lytham Trophy and Scott Gregory’s victory in the Amateur Championship.
The next challenge is the European Team Championship in France this week (July 5-9) and Bower said: “We’ve got a great team and I really want to do my best for the country in that.”
Bower follows an illustrious list of Yorkshire winners including Hull’s Steve Uzzell, Peter Fenton from Cleckheaton & District, Sand Moor’s Mark Pullan, Roger Roper ,who was a member at Catterick Garrison, and Bradford’s best ever golfer Rodney Foster.
His name will also go on a trophy donated in 1948 by Derek Moore-Brabazon, 2nd Baron Brabazon of Tara, alongside the likes of Michael Bonallack, Sandy Lyle, Gordon Brand Jnr, Ronan Rafferty, Peter McEvoy, Peter Baker and Charl Schwartzel.