Falko Hanisch came out on top after the closely fought 36-hole Final of the 90th Boys Amateur Championship at Muirfield today.
The 16-year-old German defeated Spain’s Alejandro Aguilera on the 37th hole to seal the biggest win of his young career. He has earned a place in The 122nd Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s and Prince’s next year and an exemption into Final Qualifying for The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.
“I’m so happy, I can hardly believe it”, said Hanisch.
“I enjoyed the match, it was a very tough match and Alejandro played very well. I tried not to think about the occasion too much and just concentrate on enjoying playing golf. My only thought before the match was to be relaxed and enjoy the final.
“Sometimes it’s easier to play in other countries like Scotland because in your own country, everyone expects you to do well. I like the Scottish people, they were very supportive.
“After the first nine holes, I was not confident and he was playing well. But I just said to myself ‘try and play better’ and thankfully it came together. Alejandro is a great player, I like his golf swing, he is very quick and his short game is unbelievable.”
“In the last hole, my ball was in a divot and I couldn’t hit it so I lost because of that”, said Aguilera.
“If you told me on the first day that I would have reached the final, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m very happy as I came second in the Boys Amateur.
“Match play is different and I don’t always like to play the same type of golf all the time. I like the change in format.
“I knew I had to make a birdie on the 17th to stay in it and then maybe make a birdie on the18th to win it but it wasn’t to be.
“I think it’s important at my age to not worry about winning all the time, being second place is good and I can come back next year to try again.”
In fair conditions on Scotland’s East Coast, it was the Spaniard who stormed into a three hole lead on the front nine after Hanisch bogeyed on the 6th and 9th holes, either side of a concession on the 7th.
Nevertheless, Hanisch, who is a member of the Stolper Heide Club in Berlin, won two holes in a row from the 10th to reduce the deficit to one, only to bogey the par 4 12th to give Aguilera a two hole advantage.
A beautiful tee shot by Hanisch on the par 3 13th enabled him to pull one hole back after Aguilera found trouble in the bunker and he returned the match to all-square after winning the 14th hole with a par following a bogey from the Spanish youngster.
However, the 16-year-old from Madrid replied immediately with a successful par putt on the next hole after a double bogey from the German hopeful.
Both players were unable to take advantage of opportunities to win the 17th after missing putts from around 4ft and had to settle for a halve as nerves began to take hold.
The pair finished the opening 18 holes all-square after Aguilera’s wayward approach to the 18th green plugged into the right-hand greenside bunker and was followed by a three-putt that led to the hole being conceded.
The early exchanges in the afternoon were a close run affair with the first four holes being halved but Hanisch, who is currently number one in the German Junior Golf Rankings, took the lead for the first time in the match with an excellent birdie on the par 5 23rd hole.
The slender advantage was short lived, however, as Aguilera made successful putts on the 24th and 25th holes in a two-hole swing to go 1up.
The see-saw nature of the encounter continued two holes later with a birdie by the German on the 27th good enough to win the hole and restore parity to the encounter, before a bogey by Aguilera on the 30th hole gave Hanisch the lead for a second time in the match.
Aguilera was not out of it yet, however, and the match went back to all-square on the 34th hole when the Spaniard holed a vital birdie putt from 20ft after his opponent had hit a spectacular bunker recovery close to the flag.
The last two holes were halved, taking the Final to extra holes.
Aguilera handed the advantage to Hanisch when his approach to the 37th hole found thick rough left of the green while his opponent’s second shot safely found the heart of the green. The young German held his composure to secure the winning par putt from four feet and complete a memorable victory.
The 91st Boys Amateur Championship will take place at The Nairn and Nairn Dunbar from 15-20 August 2017.