Bairstow lands Brabazon Trophy
Ganton Golf Club provided a stern test for the country’s best amateur men golfers before yielding the prestigious Brabazon Trophy to the third Yorkshireman in the past four Championships.
Hallowes left-hander Sam Bairstow played stunning golf all week to deservedly win the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship with a total of -11 (273), just 2-shots off The Brabazon record low score. He followed fellow Tyke champions Ben Schmidt at Alwoodley in 2019 and Nick Poppleton in 2018 at Frilford Heath.
An opening round of 66 and three consecutive 69s saw Bairstow home by two shots, although he had to fight off a late charge from Zach Chegwidden whose -7 final round set up an exciting finish. Bairstow started the final round with a five-shot lead over Kent’s Josh Bristow.
Five holes in, he had stretched that lead to six shots but by the 7th, Essex’s Chegwidden had suddenly appeared in his rear-view mirror after three birdies in a lightning start.
As they hit the back-nine – with Chegwidden two groups ahead of Bairstow – it got even closer. Birdies at 12, 13 and 14 put the Orsett golfer just two shots behind Bairstow.
The final stretch of holes at Ganton are renowned as some of the toughest in the country but the pair both parred the last four holes which gave Bairstow a two-shot winning margin.
On 16 however, Chegwid-den’s birdie putt from 40-feet hung on the edge of the cup while on 17 Bairstow had to hole a slippery ten-footer down the slope for par.
Afterwards Bairstow said: “If you’d have given me two under par for the round before I started, I’d have thought I’d win by five or six.
“I don’t look at leaderboards, but I saw one at 15 and I noticed Zach was at nine under. It probably helped me as I knew I had to hit proper golf shots and not just feed my way round the golf course. I was happy to par the last three and get it done. It means a lot – I’ve been feeling like a win has been coming this year. To do it in my last big event feels really good.”
Referring to the clutch par putt he holed on the penultimate hole, Bairstow said: “I thought if I holed it, it would give me a bigger cushion going down the last. I didn’t want to be going down there having to make par. When I saw it turn in and drop, it wasn’t done, but it felt pretty near.”
He added: “It’s very special – especially in Yorkshire. I had a lot of people out there supporting me which was nice.
The win comes near the end of an amazing summer for Bairstow who qualified for The Open at Royal St George’s after setting the course record in Open qualifying at St Anne’s Old Links.
He added: “I wasn’t as nervous today as I was on the first tee at The Open but I still definitely felt it down the last few. That (playing The Open) helped me and I hit the shots when I needed to.”
He had earlier made the semi-finals of the England Amateur Match Play at Moortown and Headingley, as had Wath’s George Mason.
And on being so well received as a champion by his peers, Bairstow said: “Out here at the top of the amateur game in the UK everyone gets on. It’s a good environment to play in.”
Bairstow has decided to remain on the amateur circuit before hopefully heading to the European Tour Q School next year.