Fitzpatrick and James contest 86th Boys Amateur Championship Final
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick will play Henry James from Wales in the final of the 86th Boys Amateur Championship at Notts Golf Club (Hollinwell).
On a bright and humid day in Robin Hood country 17-year-old Fitzpatrick, from Hallamshire Golf Club in Sheffield, beat Germany’s Morten Schroetgens 5&4 in the quarter-final and then in the semi-final also ended the challenge of Scot, Alasdair McDougall, on the 17th green.
18-year-old James, from Kidderminster, came into the Championship as the holder of the Welsh Boys’ title and will be looking to add to this after beating Scot, Jamie Savage, by 1 hole in the quarter-final and then dispatching 16-year-old Pierre Mazier from France by 2&1 in a semi-final tussle.
It will be the second year in-a-row that the final of the Boys Amateur Championship has been contested by two British golfers with Exeter’s Harrison Greenberry beating Patrick Kelly from Boston West in the climax to last year’s Championship at Burnham & Berrow.
Fitzpatrick would be the third English winner in four years were he to prevail in tomorrow’s 36-hole final following the successes of Greenberry in 2011 and Tom Lewis at Royal St George’s in 2009.
The last Welsh winner was Rhys Davis who defeated Spaniard, Pablo Martin, in the 2003 Final at Royal Liverpool.
Fitzpatrick came into this week’s Championship having finished third in the recent Carris Trophy at Royal Cinque Ports but having accumulated just one point for England in last week’s Boys Home Internationals at County Louth.
He bounced back to form by carding rounds of 71 and 73 to finish fourth behind France’s Romain Langasque in the 36-hole stroke play qualifying and then went on to beat France’s Kenny Subregis, Italy’s Luigi Botta and England’s Will Whiteoak before reaching the final with his wins against Schroetgens and the battling McDougall who, in previous rounds, had disposed of three of the favourites in the shape of Langasque, 2012 European Young Masters champion Renato Paratore and Amateur Championship runner-up, Matthias Schwab.
Fitzpatrick’s match against his Scottish rival was a nervous affair with both players mixing some fine shots with uncharacteristic errors. Fitzpatrick took an early two hole lead after winning the 1st and the 2nd but then lost the 547-yard par-5 3rd when he carved his second shot deep into the rough to the right of the green.
The Englishman regained a two hole cushion when he holed a 10-footer for a birdie on the 454-yard par-4 4th and was one further ahead by the time he reached the 12th tee before McDougall mounted a late fight-back by winning both the 474-yard 12th and the 241-yard downhill par-3 13th.
The Scot had shown an enormous amount of character in the morning when he defeated Schwab on the 23rd hole of an engrossing contest but he could not repeat that feat and finally lost on the 17th hole.
“I can’t really believe I’m standing here talking about tomorrow’s final,” said Fitzpatrick. “I only got one point out of four last week in Ireland but that was just one of those things.
“On the second day I was five under par when I lost the singles so I knew I was playing well and that feeling was reinforced when I shot one under here in the qualifying.
“It’s great to have made it all the way to the final and would be even better if I can go one step further tomorrow.”
James also only made one point in five appearances in Welsh colours at the Boys Home Internationals and still does not feel that he is playing as well as he can.
“It was all a bit scrappy but I holed a lot of good putts which is what you have got to do in matchplay,” he said after beating his French rival with a birdie on the 501-yard par-5 17th hole.
“I’m shattered to be honest, but am sure the adrenalin will get me through tomorrow’s match. Matt is a great player but I know that if I can move up a gear I will be in with a very good chance.”
The Welshman’s semi-final against Mazier was a close contest right until the end. The Frenchman took an early lead when James dropped a shot at the 381-yard par-4 1st but the Welshman levelled the contest with a birdie on the 3rd and it remained that way until James failed to match par on the 404-yard par-4 7th
James won the 178-yard par-3 9th with a par and then gained a two hole advantage when Mazier dropped shots to par on both the 414-yard par-4 10th and the 360-yard par-4 11th. The Frenchman briefly got one back on the 439-yard par-4 15th but was closed out when he fired his second shot into the deep rough to the left of the 17th green and failed to match his Welsh opponent’s winning birdie four.
The 36-hole final between Fitzpatrick and James begins at 8:30 tomorrow (Sunday), scores can be found here.