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Singh Brar To Defend At Faldo Grand Final

by Colin Callander - October 21, 2013

Jack Singh Brar will be bidding to end his season on a high note when he defends his title at this week’s Faldo Series European Grand Final at The Greenbrier, West Virginia in the U.S.

The 17-year-old English international posted rounds of 72, 78 and 72 to claim a two-shot victory at last year’s European Grand Final at Lough Erne but then narrowly missed out on completing the Faldo Series double when he finished tied second just one shot behind China’s Luo Xue Wen in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in March.

Singh Brar and Luo will resume their rivalry at The Greenbrier as part of a formidable 101-strong field that also includes Singh Brar’s compatriot, Marco Penge, who earlier this year beat Scotland’s Bradley Neil in a playoff at the Fairhaven Trophy before winning both the Under-16 and Under-15 titles at the English Boys’ Under-16 Open Amateur Championship at Seacroft.

Singh Brar and Penge head a strong English contingent in Virginia which also includes Windermere’s Adam Chapman, Drayton Park’s Cameron Long, Boston’s Billy Spooner and Brocket Hall’s Nick Ward.

The field for the girls’ event looks on paper to be one of the most competitive ever assembled for the Faldo Series Grand Final.

It is headed by two other defending champions in the shape of Rochelle Morris and Sophie Keech, who won the Girls’ Under- 21 and Girls’ Under-16 titles 12 months ago in Ireland, and also features the likes of England’s India Clyburn, Annabel Dimmock, Samantha Fuller and Kyra Horlock, Ireland’s Olivia Mehaffey and Mary Doyle and Scotland’s Heather Munro, all of whom have played at international level for their respective countries.

“We are very excited about bringing the Grand Final to the U.S. for the first time,” said the host, Nick Faldo, who inaugurated his Faldo Series back in 1996 and has subsequently seen it expand to include 40 events in 30 different countries worldwide.

“The players will have the opportunity to experience tournament golf at a worldclass resort that has hosted the Ryder Cup and the PGA Tour four times.”

The Faldo Series Grand Final is a 54-hole stroke play event with the field divided into five age-group categories (Boys’ Under-21, Boys’ Under-18, Boys’ Under-16, Girls’ Under-21 and Girls’ Under 16). Each age-group winner will win a place in the 2014 Faldo Series Asia Grand Final.

The leading boy and girl also will be invited to play in a professional event while the title of Faldo Series champion will go to the player with the lowest gross aggregate, regardless of age or gender.

This year, Singh Brar took full advantage of his opportunity to mingle with the professionals by making the cut at the M2M Russian Open at Tseleevo Golf and Polo Club near Moscow. He put together rounds of 77, 66, 80 and 71 to finish tied 60th behind Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey. His second-round 66 was the best of the day and helped him to climb 50 places and make the cut on 1-under par.

Guan Tianlang is hoping to book a return trip to The Masters while defending his title at this week’s Asia Pacific Amateur Championship at Nanshan International Golf Club in China.

The 14-year-old Chinese teenager claimed a place in this year’s Masters when he won the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand and then went on to surprise the golfing world by making the cut at Augusta National despite being handed a one-stroke penalty for slow play towards the end of his second round.

Guan Tianlang

Guan insists he holds no grudge against European Tour chief referee, John Paramor, for meting out that punishment.

“I respect what they do with me,” he said during a transatlantic conference call last week. “I respect the referee and think it (was) a very good experience for me. I have learned from that. I paid attention so I think I should thank him (the referee) for that.

“I think I pay more attention to my routine and my speed,” he added. “But I still think my routine is pretty good and I trust it a lot.” The Chinese teenager does not turn 15 until the second day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur and has no immediate plans to turn professional.

“I still have no idea about turning pro now,” he confirmed. “I’m working on my game but my schoolwork is very important for me still. I think there is still a long way to go. I hope I can go back to Augusta next year but other than that, I don’t have a plan.”

Guan believes the Asia-Pacific Amateur represents the pinnacle of the amateur game and is determined to win it against a strong field including three players from the top-10 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

“I think it is the greatest amateur event in the world,” he said. “I really hope to win it again and I feel like I’m playing well. I feel like if I have a really good week I can win it again.”

One competitor in this week’s championship who has already booked a place in next year’s Masters is Australia’s Oliver Goss, who qualified for Augusta by finishing runner-up to England’s Matt Fitzpatrick at last summer’s U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. He was third behind Guan 12 months ago in Thailand.

Nineteen-year-old Goss will be joined in China by a strong Australian contingent including World No. 6 Brady Watt, Lucas Herbert, who led the Australian junior team to victory in the Ten Nations Cup in South Africa and then finished runner-up in the Callaway Junior World Championship in San Diego, and Indian-born Queensland teenager Viraat Badhwar, who won this year’s Australian Master of the Amateurs Championship at Royal Melbourne.

“You always think The Masters seems so far away,” said Herbert. “But then you get an invitation into an event like this and suddenly it’s like four good rounds away. In saying that, I’m a long way off winning it. I can’t just go over there expecting it. I have a lot of hard work. But it’s pretty unreal when you talk about it like that.”

Pan Cheng-tsung, the World No. 5 from Chinese Taipei, who finished runner-up in last year’s championship, will also start among the favourites as will Japanese No. 1 Eric Sugimoto, Korean No. 1 Lee Chang-Woo, and 16-year-old Chinese player Dou Zecheng, who secured victory at the recent China Unicorn Woo Pro-Am Championship.

England’s talented Under-16 boys team completed a hat trick of international victories when they defeated Ireland in their recent international match at Portmarnock.

The English began the sequence with a 10-2 win against Wales at Oswestry and then beat Scotland 11½-3½ at St. Andrews before claiming an impressive treble with a 13-3 victory on Irish soil.

The foundations for England’s victory against the Irish were laid on the opening day when they dropped just half a point in the morning foursomes and then won all four of the four-balls in the afternoon.

They went into the final eight singles with a 7½-2½ advantage and duly confirmed their superiority with victories from Harry Hall, Matty Lamb, Chris Handy, Will Enefer and Jordon Boulden and a halve from Billy Spooner against Sean Doyle.

Ireland’s sole successes came from Kevin Le Blanc, who completed a 2-and-1 victory against Marco Penge in the top match, and Conor Purcell, who defeated Lewis George by two holes.

“The boys did very well and it is very pleasing to see the strength in depth we have in England Golf,” said England Boys’ Manager Derek Hughes. “It was a very creditable performance where everyone played a part.”

Hall, George, Handy and Enefer were the most successful players in the three matches against Wales, Scotland and Ireland, each winning six out of their seven matches. Lamb was not involved in the Welsh match but won all five of his games against the Scots and the Irish.

Denmark’s Emily Pedersen will have the chance to compete against some of Europe’s leading aspiring young professionals when she tees up in this week’s Grecotel Amirandes Ladies Open on the holiday island of Crete.

Emily Pedersen

Pedersen plays in the Ladies Europe Tour Access Series event against a strong field that includes Scotland’s Sally Watson and England’s Lauren Taylor, both of whom have recently turned professional.

The field also includes current LETAS Order of Merit leader Mireia Prat from Spain plus Pedersen’s compatriot, Nicole Broch Larsen, who is in third place on the same list despite only turning professional after being a member of the winning European team at this summer’s Vagliano Trophy.

England’s Tara Watters and Sweden’s Emma Nilsson are among the other amateurs to be taking part. Pedersen goes into the event at the Crete Golf Club in second place on the European Women’s Amateur Ranking after a tremendous season in which she has won the European Amateur Championship, the Spanish Ladies’ Amateur Championship and the German Girls’ Championship.

The 17-year-old also represented Europe in the Ping Junior Solheim Cup and more recently helped her home club Smorum claim a massive 19-shot victory against France’s Golf St. Cloud in the European Ladies’ Club Trophy at St. Sophia Golf & Spa in Bulgaria.

Spain’s Ainhoa Olarra showed that the amateurs can be more than a match for the professionals when she won the Spanish Women’s National Professional Championship at Costa Adeje in Tenerife.

The 18-year-old from Basozabal put together rounds of 71, 71 and 69 for a 7-under par aggregate of 211 and then beat former Solheim Cup player Tania Elosegui and another amateur, Natalia Escuriola, in a playoff.

It turned out to be a good event for the Spanish amateurs because 19-year-old Luna Sobron was tied sixth and 21-year-old Silvia Banon was 14th.

French teenager Mathilda Cappeliez claimed her first major international victory when she won the French International Ladies’ Championship at Morfontaine.

The 15-year-old from Evian-les-Bains carded rounds of 71, 68, 72 and 70 to tie Nanna Madsen on 281 and then beat the Danish player with a birdie on the first extra hole.

“This is my first big international win. I’m really happy,” said Cappeliez as she clutched the Cécile de Rothschild Trophy. “I was nervous over my last putt and thought that it had missed but it fell in the back door.”

Sweden’s Linnea Ström carded rounds of 73, 71, 68 and 71 to finish third on 283 while Germany’s Anna Rottluff and France’s Ariane Provot were tied fourth one shot further back. England’s Alex Peters and Sophie Lamb both missed the cut.

Lauren Whyte carded a fine 73 in wet and windswept conditions to win the Scottish Girls’ Champion of Champions event at the Duke’s course at St. Andrews.

The 17-year-old from the St. Regulus club, St. Andrews, finished one shot ahead of Dunblane New’s Nicola Robertson and three in front of 2013 Scottish Girls’ champion Connie Jaffrey from Troon Ladies’ Golf Club.

Four GB&I golf clubs will be attempting to break a French stranglehold when they compete in this week’s European Men’s Club Trophy at Aroeira Golf Club in Portugal.

Coventry, County Sligo, Glenbervie and Wrexham will all have high hopes of victory but to achieve that goal they will have to halt a run that has seen the French representatives win the trophy in five out of the last six years.

Twelve months ago a strong Golf D’Ormesson team comprising three internationals, Adrien Saddier, Clément Berardo and Lionel Weber, won the title at Minthis Hills Golf Club, Cyprus, and this time it will be the turn of 2008 champions, St. Nom la Breteche, to try to extend that winning French sequence. They will represented by Franck Daux, Jules Bordonado and Arthur Heinkele.

St. Nom la Breteche, Coventry, County Sligo, Glenbervie and Wrexham will also face competition from clubs representing Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Ukraine.

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