Hallamshire’s Barclay Brown birdied the last two holes to snatch a dramatic one-shot victory in the Carris Trophy at Fulford Golf Club.
The York track has witnessed some memorable finishes in the past, including two eagles from Ryder Cup player Peter Baker at the last hole 30 years ago in the Benson and Hedges tournament. The first tied Nick Faldo and he repeated the feat in the play-off.
Brown’s fantastic finish came after a three and a half hour delay due to a thunderstorm and evoked those memories as he found the last gasp push to finish on eight-under par and get past the long-time leader, Italy’s Gregorio De Leo.
It was his first major win and, even better, his triumph in the English U18 boys’ open championship came in his home county.
The 17-year-old boy international worked hard for his win. His tee shots went hither and thither during the round but, with the touch of a magician, he pulled off outrageous shots from thick rough, under trees and in the bushes to keep himself in the running.
The 7th was a great example. His tee shot went into the trees on the right, he escaped from that, only to send his third shot over the green and on to the 8th tee. From there he simply chipped in for par.
“I knew I had a good chance,” said Brown, after pulling off his win. “But I completely lost my game today. I just got up and down from all over place and my putter saved me.
“I aimed to stay in it as long as I could and hope it would come good at the end, which it did.”
For all but two holes, de Leo kept ahead. He started the round with a two-shot lead which, at times, he extended to three.
But on the 15th the gap was narrowed to one when Brown got up and down – again – for par, while de Leo took his turn to visit the trees and bogeyed the hole.
The 17th was the turning point for Brown. He rammed home a 35-footer for birdie and into a tie for the lead after de Leo was unable to follow him in on the same line.
“A few putts had just slipped by because I hadn’t hit them hard enough,” said Brown. “On that one, I thought it was time and I gave it a bit more pace. I knew Gregorio was right on my line and I would give him a good read, so I knew I needed to hole it.”
On the last, Brown put himself in a great position off the tee and his second finished pin high, just off the green. De Leo, meanwhile, hit his drive into a bunker and reached the green in three. Brown chipped dead for a certain birdie and the Italian’s attempt to force a play-off slid by.
“I was nervous over that chip,” said Brown. “Definitely." He’s been seeking that big win for a while and commented: “I've been playing well this year but just hadn’t quite got over the line so it’s nice to do it, especially here in Yorkshire in an England Golf event.”
Victory looked an unlikely outcome after Brown found himself three over through nine holes of the first round. He eventually signed for 73 on day one, which included six penalty shots, and joked: “I only actually hit 67 shots that day.”
But he recovered with a 68 on day two and really made ground on day three when he repeated that score despite a cold putter.
Italy’s de Leo also made his big move in the penultimate round to lead on nine-under par with Brown just two behind. The Italian boys’ champion shot a seven-under 65 to set up an intriguing finale.
The difference between them was probably the putter. De Leo had 26 putts and came off the course commenting “My putter was so good.” Brown had contrasting fortunes, remarking: “I didn’t hole any putts. A 6ft putt was the longest I made.”
But he certainly wasn’t dismayed. “I’m happy with the result. I knew someone would shoot a good score and I just wanted to keep myself in it, to stay as close as I could to the lead.”
Brown collected more silverware for his trophy cupboard. He also helped England win the Nations Cup, teaming up with Harrison Arnold (Castle Royle) and Enrique Dimayuga (Walton Heath). Their team total over 36 holes was eight-under par and they finished six shots ahead of Italy.
He also won the Malcolm Reid Salver for the best aggregate score in the Carris and Peter McEvoy Trophies.
Fulford’s junior captain George Robson got in the tournament from the reserve list and took advantage of the opportunity. His opening 71 included a birdie on the 10th and an eagle three on the 11th and he followed suit on the 11th on day two en route to finishing 58th.
And there was a notable top 10 finish for Yorkshire Boys’ champion, Ben Schmidt (Rotherham) who was runner up in the McGregor Trophy. His 67 on day two moved him up 66 places into a tie for 10th on one-under and was his first bogey free round.
egor was massive for my confidence, especially with my second round of five-under. Coming into this I knew I had done it and there wasn’t so much pressure trying to make the cut,” said Rotherham member Schmidt.