Ireland’s Rowan Lester will meet Oskar Bergqvist of Sweden tomorrow in the 36-hole final of the 88th Boys Amateur Championship at Prestwick.
Lester, from Hermitage, defeated Welshman Tim Harry 4&2 in the semi-final while Bergqvist survived a tight battle with defending champion Ewen Ferguson of Scotland. The 17-year-old Swede won a close match on the 19th with a birdie to edge out the Scottish international.
The competitors faced difficult conditions with blustery winds and driving rain throughout the day. After sending Norway’s Kristoffer Reitan home with a 2&1 victory in the morning quarter-final, Lester faced Harry for a place in the Final. The pair halved the first hole with pars and when Harry bogeyed the second Lester took the lead and didn’t relinquish it for the rest of the match. He gained momentum with a birdie on the 3rd hole and despite a run of bogeys he was able to secure his victory with a second birdie on the 16th hole.
“Today I was just that bit better than Tim, he was a touch off while I played pretty well. I handed him a few holes but I was able to get them back with a few good up-and-downs,” said Lester.
The 18-year-old is now set to compete in the biggest match of his golfing career tomorrow after representing Ireland in both the recent Boys Home Internationals at Western Gailes and the European Boys Team Championships in Norway. Lester has been on form throughout the week since leading after the first round of stroke play qualifying.
“I feel great, I’m really confident in my game and I’m going to try and go out there tomorrow and enjoy it really. Normally I am quite nervous in tournaments but for some reason I haven’t felt very many nerves at all, which is good.”
Bergqvist has enjoyed a smoother path to the final and hadn’t required more than 16 holes in any of his matches until his Semi Final with Ferguson. The Swede had earlier enjoyed a comfortable 3&2 win over Denmark’s Christoffer Bring.
The Semi Final was a closely contested affair with neither player able to take more than a one hole advantage over the other. Ferguson carded his second birdie of the day on the 15th to regain the lead after Bergqvist dropped a shot but the match quickly returned to all square when the Swede answered back with a birdie to win the next hole. With the pair still tied on the par-4 18th, Ferguson placed his approach shot to within five feet before Bergqvist rolled in a ten-footer to save par. When Ferguson missed his birdie putt to close out the match the pair moved back to the first tee.
With a large gallery of spectators gathered around the green, Ferguson hit his approach to twelve feet and pin high before Bergqvist played a brilliant shot from the rough that landed three feet from the pin. With the match on the line, Ferguson failed to sink the putt and his fate was sealed by Bergqvist’s birdie.
“I’m feeling terrible, this wasn’t my game,” said Bergqvist. “It was Ewen’s game all along. He missed a couple of putts and I holed a couple of putts but he should be the one in the final.”
He added, “I am very proud to represent Sweden here. I’m going to try to be prepared to 100% for tomorrow.”
The 36-hole final between Lester and Bergqvist will begin at 8:30 am on Sunday with the second 18 holes to be played at approximately 1:00pm.