Taylor and Harris triumph in Abu Dhabi
Ben Taylor won the Abu Dhabi Junior Golf Championship with a three-round score of 13 under par, high-quality play on a European Tour course that shouted at a bright future. Taylor, a Walton Heath member and golf scholar at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, has ambitions to turn professional, and he was delighted with his two-shot victory after a rousing tussle with Rhys Pugh, the captain of this year’s Great Britain and Ireland Jacques Leglise Trophy team.
"Looking back at the sort of scores Tour players shoot here, my 65 on Monday is right up there," said Taylor. "That's quite encouraging to see. Playing courses where the pros play puts you in a good position to know where you'll be in the future. So that was one of the highlights of the week - winning on a European Tour course.”
Taylor started the final round two strokes ahead and seemed to falter at the short seventh, where he failed to escape from a greenside bunker and made a double-bogey, but he bounced back immediately with four consecutive birdies and had the title in his sights.
Pugh, 17, already a seasoned Wales international, proved hard to shake off. Unflappable, he holed a 25-footer for a birdie two at the 15th, but it would not be enough, as he and Taylor both returned rounds of 69 to ensure the Englishman retained his two-stoke advantage as he crossed the winning line.
The gap to third placed Jordan Ainley, from Brokenhurst Manor, finished at 12 shots. Jerome Titlow, from The London in Kent was the only other player to go under par on the final day. His 71 was another excellent effort in a stiff breeze that put a premium on control.
Hayley Davis, the English Amateur champion from Ferndown, won the girls event by three strokes, ahead of Amy Boulden and Kelly Tidy, the British Amateur champion. Starting four shorts ahead of the field, Davis produced a risk-free final round of 74, which she correctly judged would be enough.
Boulden, a golf professional's daughter from Maesdu in North Wales, returned the lowest female round of the tournament with a 66 that sent her rocketing up the leaderboard, though she remained well short of the winner.