Scott Gregory will face Robert MacIntyre in the Final of The 121st Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl tomorrow.
Gregory played steady golf and was never behind in the Semi-Final as he eliminated Poland’s Adrian Meronk by 3&2 to secure his place in the 36-hole Final.
MacIntyre came through a tense contest with Irishman Paul McBride at the second extra hole to set up the first Anglo-Scottish Final since 2004 when Stuart Wilson defeated Lee Corfield at St Andrews.
Gregory, who was runner-up in this year’s Spanish Amateur Championship, seized the initiative from the outset, winning the first hole with a par four after a slightly delayed start while surface water was cleared from the 1st green following a downpour.
Although he slipped up with a double bogey six on the 3rd, the 21-year-old England A international took control of the match around the turn winning three out of five holes from the 8th to go 4 up as Meronk, who is part of the European Arnold Palmer Cup team which will face the USA at Formby next week, struggled to find the form which had taken him to the Semi-Final. Gregory, who was a finalist in the English Amateur Championship in 2014, sealed the win with a half in four at the 16th.
“I’m pretty chuffed – my game is in good shape. I’m hitting a real solid tee to green,” said Gregory after the match. “If I can just maintain that, keep hitting it close, and giving myself chances, I think I’ve got a good chance of getting something good tomorrow.
“I knew I had to play well. If I didn’t play well I knew I wasn’t going to win. I just had to go out there and stick to my game plan – try and hit fairways and greens and give myself putts. Fortunately I was able to do that and apply some pressure and move on from there. I got things rolling and just held onto it really.
On qualifying to play in The 145th Open at Royal Troon in July if he wins tomorrow, Gregory said, “I’ve got a job tomorrow – I just need to take it one shot at a time – one hole at a time. If I play the best golf that I can play then I’ll be at The Open. But I’m not going to think too much about it.”
In the second Semi-Final, MacIntyre, the 2015 Scottish Amateur champion, trailed for most of the front nine but moved in front with birdies at the 11th and 12th holes and when McBride bogeyed the next it looked difficult for him to find a way back but the Irishman battled back to win the 17th and take the match down the last. When the left-handed MacIntyre (19) failed to get down in two with a putt from the back of the 18th green, the match was all square.
On the first extra hole, McIntyre’s 10 ft birdie putt just missed on the left and the hole was halved. On the 20th, the Scot found the green in two but McBride was short and right of the green. He chipped to 35 ft and when he failed to hole the putt coming back, it left MacIntyre with two putts for the match and he duly took his place in the Final.
“It feels amazing to get to this point. It’s 36 holes tomorrow so we’ll see what happens,” said MacIntyre.
“I’ve never felt better, getting to this point is unbelievable. If I can go one better tomorrow that’ll be the icing on the cake.
“Words can’t really describe how it would feel to win, not just to me but my family at home, my friends, and the small golf club that I come from, it would just be unbelievable.
He added, “My attitude is never say die, it was two up with two to play, if I was two down with two to play, I’d always say I can win this match. Paul’s a great player, I’ve known him for a while now. I have just got to keep going in the Final now.”
In the morning Quarter-Finals, Gregory saw off the challenge of Spain’s Javier Sainz by 5&4 while MacIntyre ended the run of another Spaniard, Ivan Cantero, with a 2&1 win. Meronk defeated Frenchman Nicolas Maheut by 5&4 and McBride edged out Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson by two holes.
The 36-hole Final gets underway at 8.30am at Royal Porthcawl. For scoring and results click here.