Teenager Pugh gains Open exemption after European Amateur triumph
Welsh amateur Rhys Pugh will fulfil a life-long dream next year as he tees it up among golf’s elite at The 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield.
The 18-year-old triumphed at The European Amateur Championship at Carton House Golf Club, Co. Kildare, Ireland, by one shot over compatriot James Frazer. The teenager from Pontypridd came from eight shots behind on the final day, carding a sensational 66 for a total score of 11-under-par, securing the prestigious title and an exemption into The Open.
“It's been my dream to play in The Open since I started golf", said Pugh, “It’s the biggest win of my career.”
Pugh was part of the victorious GB&I Walker Cup team in 2011 that prevailed against a stellar United States team at Royal Aberdeen. Pugh, the youngest member of the 10-man squad, went undefeated winning all of his 3 matches in the 14-12 victory, GB&I’s first victory in the biennial match since 2003.
Traditionally, winners of The European Amateur, The Amateur Championship and The US Amateur gain an exemption into The Open. Last year’s European Amateur Champion Manuel Trappel from Austria played the first two days at Royal Lytham & St Annes alongside Padraig Harrington and Rickie Fowler, but did not manage to make the cut.
Pugh will hope to emulate his Walker Cup teammate Tom Lewis, who famously led after round one of The 2011 Open Championship at Royal St Georges, and ended up claiming The Silver Medal for the lowest amateur performance.
Pugh will now turn his focus to The St Andrews Trophy, where GB&I take on the Continent of Europe at Portmarnock on 31 August and 1 September.