Scott Gregory came out on top in the closely fought Final of The 121st Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl today.
The 21-year-old from Corhampton in Hampshire held off a strong challenge from Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre to seal a 2&1 victory in the 36-hole match.
The England A international secured a place in The 145th Open at Royal Troon, next year’s US Open at Erin Hills and, by tradition, an invitation to the Masters Tournament in 2017.
“Obviously it’s a dream come true, you dream about moments like this when you are practising all those hours and when you’re not playing as well as you’d like to,” he said.
“It’s (playing in The Open) going to be completely new to me so hopefully I can get some decent practice rounds in with some people and see where I go from there.”
Gregory got off to a strong start and led for most of the morning round, moving to 3 up by the 12th hole. McIntyre, the 2015 Scottish Amateur Champion, showed his resolve to win the 15th with an excellent chip from thick rough left of the green to 5ft and then holed a 30ft putt on the 16th to reduce the deficit to one hole.
The 19-year-old from Glencruitten, near Oban, missed a 4ft putt at the next which would have won him the hole and Gregory bounced back with a delicate chip from a steep down slope by the 18th green to secure a half and retain a one hole lead going into the afternoon.
The momentum shifted to MacIntyre in the early stages of the afternoon round and the Scot moved ahead for the first time in the match when he won the 20th and 21st holes with pars after Gregory found the rough with his approaches to both holes.
The evenly matched pair traded holes over the next six holes with the left-handed MacIntyre losing the 22nd after finding a greenside bunker. Gregory showed his mastery of bunker play with a fine escape from 60 yards short of the green at the next and holed from 8ft to move back in front.
MacIntyre birdied the 24th to move back to all square and Gregory replied with a birdie at the 118-yard par three 25th when his tee shot finished a foot from the hole to edge in front. The Scot fought back once again, holing a 6ft par putt to win the 27th, but Gregory, who was runner-up in this year’s Spanish Amateur Championship, enjoyed some good fortune on the 28th when he overhit his chip from the side of the green and it struck the flag and dropped to a foot from the hole to earn him a half.
Gregory holed an 8ft putt from the back of the 30th to claim the hole and when MacIntyre found a greenside bunker at the 31st the Englishman was 2 up with five to play. When the 35th was halved in four, Gregory completed the most important victory of his young career.
Gregory said after the match, “I think luck went my way a little bit, that definitely helped. I got a couple of lies where I shouldn’t have had lies but I made the most out of the opportunities that I had.
“I kept telling myself if I got chances, I’ve got to take them because that’s what people who win these championships do. They give themselves chances and when they get them, they take them. I knew that putt on 17 was the moment I needed to make it so it was nice to do it.”
MacIntyre, who admitted Gregory’s short game throughout the match made him difficult to beat, said “I’m gutted overall but it was a good match. It was a close one all the way to the 17th. But fair play to Scott he hung in there and ended up walking away with the trophy.
“I thought he struck it brilliantly in the first 12 holes. His short game was just unbelievable. Mine wasn’t quite as sharp as his but we’ll take positives from it.
“I had heard of Scott but I’d never met him or played with him. He’s a great guy and all the best to him in the tournaments he gets to play in now. It was nice to meet him.”
The 122nd Amateur Championship will be played at Royal St George’s and Prince’s in Kent from 19-24 June 2017.
For scoring and results from The Amateur Championship visit championships.randa.org.