Bullseye for the Bullet
YG Publisher Danny Lockwood watches Marcus Armitage break his duck in glorious style...
It’s a wonder Marcus Armitage couldn’t hear the roars of approval echoing from Yorkshire’s Broad Acres across northern Europe, as realisation dawned that he was finally rubbing shoulders with the continent’s champion golfers.
The man they call Bullet had finally hit the bullseye, his target The Porsche European Open in Hamburg, Germany. In fact his sniper’s aim didn’t just take out the trophy, it riddled it.
The Howley Hall man produced the round of his life to storm through the field from lying four shots back, to actually lead by four at one stage, before settling for a 2-shot victory over fellow Englishman Matthew Southgate. In winning, Marcus bagged a place in the upcoming US Open.
In the moments as victory dawned he struggled to hold back the tears – and brought grown men to tears – in recalling the long, often terribly hard years his life journey had travelled. Since losing his mum as a young teenager, the road had been rocky at best with golf ultimately providing a lost young man’s salvation.
A couple of weeks before crowning his career in Germany, Marcus had been supporting his fellow county professionals in Chris Hanson and Adam Walker’s 2020protour event at Wheatley Golf Club. The story of the 33-year-old’s golfing journey had bounced between EuroPro, Challenge and the main European Tours. In his 71st outing he put everything together to not only win the start at Torrey Pines but move him inside the top 30 on the Race to Dubai.
In the moments after Southgate’s late charge back at him came up short, and the news came through on the driving range, he told Sky: “I'm an emotional guy, I'm struggling to keep a lid on it here. I was just trying to breathe and be calm, not touch my phone because that will be going berserk, " he said..
"Twenty years ago I lost my mum and I've dreamt about this since that day, being a winner, and you have days where you think it might not happen but I just stuck at it.
"Today is a great day and I'm sure she would be proud … I'm thinking about everybody at home – my fiancee and my dad. Everybody in my team that's helped me. But this one's for me..
"All those days on my own dealing with life and I'm sure a lot of people do, all those lonely days on my own working on my dream and I think I've got to take a lot of credit for it myself."
He was in the news recently for his novelty Guinness Book of World Records long-distance drive into a moving car. But it was back to business at the Green Eagle course – and what a way he found to make more headlines.
The tournament had been cut to 54-holes and delayed a day because of Germany’s Covid restrictions.
The pack in front of him included overnight leader, home golfer Thomas Detry, Belgium’s Daxxx van Driel and Eduoardo Molinari. Defending champion Paul Casey was breathing down Armitage’s neck, a shot behind him. Everything changed barely before the leaders got into the swing of things as Marcus took the course apart and stormed to -9 inside the first 14 holes to open up a four-shot lead at one point. It included a hole-out eagle two at the 7th.
It looked like the nerves might be tightening when a clumsy six at one of the Green Eagle’s two closing par-5s on the last three holes stopped the charge.
Southgate himself had dropped an earlier shot, but when he rapidly closed the gap to a single shot with Marcus already sitting nervously outside the clubhouse, and two par 5s to come, it started to look like the Yorkshireman might need a play-off at best.
On the 16th, Southgate’s birdie putt stayed agonisingly above ground on the edge of the hole. A par followed at the short 17th – but just as Marcus headed to the range to loosen up, Southgate produced his worst drive of the week and pulled his tee shot into water on the left.
He was left with a 121-yard 4th shot to try matching his fellow Englishman and it was a brave effort but never threatened the cup. A further shot back, Van Driel needed an eagle to tie Armitage, but surprisingly chose to lay up despite the green being in range. When he couldn’t hole out from the fairway, the result was confirmed.
Cue the cameraman and microphone to catch a heartwarming, tear-jerking moment of sporting history being made.
Moving quickly onto a Zoom call with his girlfriend Lucy, Marcus had viewers possibly shedding tears of laughter as he baby-talked to his slobbering pet dog. In closing, he delivered more of the laughs and smiles he’s given his many friends and fans during this tumultuous journey.
He’d already made the cameras wait as he told the watching world “I’m dying for the loo … got to go.”
And then, at the official presentation, he couldn’t resist the observation: “It’s a big trophy that…!”
It was Marcus – and it’s all yours. Somehow, there’s a sense that things might never be the same again for this charming young man.