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Junior Amateur Championships head to Northern Ireland

Almost 400 of the world’s leading young golfers will tee it up in Northern Ireland when two of the sport’s most prestigious amateur championships get underway this week.

The Boys Amateur Championship will take place at Royal Portrush and Portstewart from Tuesday 14 to Sunday 19 August while the Girls British Open Amateur Championship will be staged at Ardglass from Tuesday 14 to Saturday 18 August.

The Boys Amateur Championship

Players from 28 countries will compete for The Boys Amateur Championship trophy, won last year by Portugal’s Pedro Lencart who defeated the defending champion Falko Hanisch 5&4 in an enthralling final at Nairn.

Lencart returns for the 92nd staging of the championship and will compete in the 252-strong field, which includes some of the best young golfers from Europe as well as players from as far afield as Australia, Canada, Japan, India and Vietnam.

Fresh from playing alongside the best in the world at The 147th Open, 2018 European Amateur Champion Nicolai Hojgaard features as the highest ranked player in the field. The 17-year-old Dane holds the 12th spot in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM (WAGRTM) and will look to take another title in what has already been an impressive year for the teenager. His twin Rasmus, ranked 49th in the world, joins him in Northern Ireland.

The home hope comes in the shape of Ireland’s Mark Power. The 18-year-old former Irish Amateur Champion comes into the event on an encouraging run of form, finishing second in the stroke play qualifying rounds at the European Boys Team Championship last month and followed that up with a third-place finish at the South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship.

Power, who represented Great Britain and Ireland in the 2017 Jacques Leglise Trophy, will be joined by another member of that team in England’s Robin Williams. Both arrive at Portrush having competed in the Boys Home Internationals last week at Royal Dornoch, where Power won 6 points from 6 matches.

The 64 lowest scores over 36 holes, plus ties for 64th place, will progress to the match play stage which culminates in a 36-hole final on Sunday.

The Girls British Open Amateur Championship

The Girls Amateur Championship will be contested by 144 competitors from 24 countries. Players from as far afield as Australia and Canada, as well as a strong group from Europe and Great Britain and Ireland will compete in the championship.

The highest ranked player in the field, Italy’s Alessia Nobilio (WAGRTM 19), heads into the championship on an exciting spell of form. The 2018 German Girls runner-up topped the leaderboard in the stroke play qualifying rounds at the European Girls Team Championship in Sweden in July. The 16-year-old followed that up with a tie for third at the European Ladies Amateur Championship in Slovakia.

Nobilio’s national teammate and 2016 Girls Amateur Champion Emilie Paltrinieri returns and will be targeting another title after a strong showing at the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship in June. The 16-year-old Italian reached the quarter finals at Hillside before being knocked out by England’s Hollie Muse. In recent weeks, Paltrinieri chalked up a fourth-place finish in the stroke play qualifying rounds at the European Girls Team Championship and a top ten at the European Ladies Amateur Championship.

On the home front, Lurgan’s Annabel Wilson will be ready to make an impact at Ardglass. With a pair of top ten finishes under her belt at the beginning of the year – 8th at the Portuguese International Ladies Amateur Championship and 9th at the Spanish Ladies Amateur Championship – the 2017 Great Britain and Ireland Vagliano Team member will relish playing in front of local support as she bids to capture her first Girls British Amateur trophy.

Girls Under 16 Open Champion, Scotland’s Hannah Darling, will tee it up at Ardglass as she looks to follow up her win at Fulford with another title. Runner up to Darling, Beth Coulter from Ireland, and third placed Switzerland’s Elena Moosman will also make their way to the County Down course in a bid to go one better.

The first stage of the championship comprises two qualifying rounds of stroke play before the leading 64 players progress to match play. Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes including Saturday’s final.

Admission and parking is free at both venues. Scoring from each championship will be available at www.randa.org/. Follow The R&A on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates on social media.