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Lawrence Takes Lytham Trophy For South Africa

by Colin Callander - May 5, 2014

Thriston Lawrence made history when he closed with a 2-under-par 68 to become the first South African to win the Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

The reigning South African national champion also became the third successive foreign player to lift the distinctive Sputnik Trophy after Daan Huizing from the Netherlands won in 2012 and Finland’s Albert Eckhardt followed him into the winner’s circle 12 months ago.

Lawrence started the final round four shots behind Germany’s Hurly Long and was still trailing the leaders before mounting a charge that saw him play the last 12 holes in 5-under par. That run started with a birdie on the 589-yard par-5 seventh and he was also to pick up shots on the 11th, 13th, 16th and 17th to storm home in 32 and finish a single shot ahead of Darius Van Driel from the Netherlands on 1-over-par 281.

Thriston Lawrence

The Noordwijke player also finished strongly with a 4-under-par 66 that included a birdie-3 at the last to pip Scotland’s Bradley Neil by a single shot on 2-over-par 282.

Neil was another player to mount a late challenge with birdies on both the 17th and 18th that saw him grab the clubhouse lead before being overtaken by both Lawrence and Van Driel. However, it represented another fine performance by the 18-year-old 2013 Scottish Boys’ champion from Blairgowrie, who to date this season has also finished third in the Gauteng North Open and tied second behind Jason Smith at the South African Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Benoni Country Club.

Farther down the leaderboard, Irish international Gary Hurley came home in 2-under-par 34 for a 69 and a share of fourth place with Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult. But 54-hole leader Long could not maintain the momentum he achieved by posting 69, 69 and 71 over the first three rounds and stumbled to a closing 77 that dropped him down to sixth place on 286, two shots ahead of Sweden’s Oskar Bergqvist and English duo Toby Tree and Paul Howard.

There was even worse news for defending champion Eckhardt, who attended the tournament’s 50th anniversary dinner on the eve of the first round but then carded rounds of 78 and 82 to miss the cut in a share of 126th place on 20-over-par 160.

Another player who did not make it through to the weekend was Spain’s Javier Ballesteros, who was making an emotional return to the course where his late father, Seve, won the Open Championship in 1979 and 1988.

Javier accompanied his father to the 2001 Open at Lytham, but that counted for little as he opened with a 79 before closing with a birdie for a second-round 72. “It wasn’t my week but it’s been great fun,” said Ballesteros, who had his mother, Carmen, on his bag. “Everyone has been very good to both of us.”

Scotland’s Eilidh Briggs made a late bid to claim a Curtis Cup wild card when she won the Welsh Ladies’ Open Stroke Play Championship at Prestatyn Golf Club.

The 21-year-old Stirling University student from Kilmacolm put together rounds of 74, 68 and 74 to finish a single shot ahead of the in-form Annabel Dimmock on 9-under-par 216.

Ireland’s Emma O’Driscoll (Ballybunion) closed with a 3-under-par 72 to share third place with Emma Goddard (Royal Liverpool), Gemma Clews (Dalamere Forest) and Denmark’s Emily Pedersen. Long Ashton’s Bethan Popel posted a closing round of 71 to finish in seventh place a single shot ahead of another Curtis Cup hopeful, Gabby Cowley, from Marriott Hanbury Manor.

This year the LGU is using a new Curtis Cup selection system that gives automatic places to the first four GB&I players on the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking and the next two players on the LGU Order of Merit.

There are also two captain’s picks and Briggs will only have to wait until Tuesday to discover if her win in Wales and a runner-up finish behind Paula Grant at the recent R&A Scholars Foundation tournament in St Andrews is enough to have won her a place ahead of the likes 2013 English champion Sarah-Jane Boyd, Alex Peters, Meghan MacLaren, Alison Knowles, Gemma Dryburgh, Charlotte Thomas and several other leading candidates.

Dimmock is one player who no longer has any concerns on that score after a magnificent start to the 2014 season has catapulted her up the WAGR and into the automatic places.

The 17-year-old from Wentworth Club started her season with a win in the Jones/Doherty Cup in Florida and she also won the Sunningdale Foursomes (together with Steven Brown) and finished second at the Spanish Ladies’ International Championship. She moved to 35th place on the WWAGR with an impressive wire-to-wire victory over reigning Scottish Girls’ champion Connie Jaffrey at the recent Helen Holm Scottish Strokeplay Championship at Troon.

After her win in Scotland Dimmock was still being coy about her chances of Curtis Cup selection but she can now put the biennial event onto her schedule after almost winning her second national title in the space of just seven days.

Dimmock is joined by Stephanie Meadow, Georgia Hall and Bronte Law as the top GB&I players on WWAGR, with Dryburgh and Thomas narrowly missing out from that list.

The top-10 on the LGU Order of Merit heading into the Welsh event were (in order) Hall, Cowley, Leona Maguire, Grant, MacLaren, Chloe Ryan, Peters, Lisa Maguire, Dimmock and Briggs. The Maguire twins are unavailable for selection so if the results in Wales did not alter things Cowley and Grant would earn the two places off the LGU list, leaving the selectors to choose between Briggs and the other leading candidates.

Marco Penge lived up to his billing as the firm tournament favourite when he successfully defended his title at the Fairhaven Trophy at Fairhaven Golf Club in Lancashire.

The 15-year-old from Goodwood needed extra time to beat Scotland’s Neil in last year’s tournament but this time there was very little doubt about the outcome once he had opened up an emphatic eight-shot lead after opening rounds of 69, 70 and 70.

Marco Penge

The English international went on to close with a 72 to cruise to a seven-shot victory over Hexham’s Matty Lamb on 281. Maxwell Martin from Ladbrook Park was third in the boys’ competition after closing with a superb 67 to finish one shot ahead of Switzerland’s Neal Woernhard on 291.

The result ended a run of near misses that had seen Penge finish runner-up to Jamie Dick at the Bernard Darwin Salver and then tied for third behind Haydn McCullen and Bradley Moore at the subsequent Peter McEvoy Trophy.

England 4 represented by Hollie Muse, Oliver Farrell and Jamie Li started the tournament by winning the Nations Cup held in conjunction with the first two rounds. The trio posted a total of 290 (with two scores out of three counting in both rounds) before beating an England 1 squad comprising Sophie Keech, Moore and Penge on a card countback. An England 3 squad made up of Sophie Lamb, Matty Lamb and Jake Storey were third ahead of Finland 1 and Scotland 3.

Sophie Lamb, from Clitheroe, went on to win the girls’ competition after carding rounds of 76, 74, 71 and 70 for a four-round aggregate of 291. Her nearest rival was Muse from West Lancs, who finished a further six shots back on 297.

Jack Hume will start out among the favourites when the Irish Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship gets underway later this week at Royal Dublin.

The newly crowned West of Ireland champion will be joined by defending champion Robbie Cannon, Irish Close champion Cormac Sharvin, 2013 Spanish Amateur champion Reeve Whitson, and reigning Irish Boys’ winner Robin Dawson in a field that includes players from no less than 19 countries.

Also present will be Headford’s Rory McNamara, the 2013 West of Ireland champion, and Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy, who was T2 in this year’s South African Stroke Play Championship.

South Africa is another of those countries represented at Royal Dublin with Lawrence, their reigning amateur champion and the 2014 Lytham Trophy winner, sharing the limelight with Free State Open champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Prince’s Grant Amateur winner NJ Arnoldi. The South African competitors will be bidding to emulate compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, who won the title back in 2002.

Last year, Cannon defeated Scotland’s Graeme Robertson and compatriot Moynihan in a playoff. Robertson, like Moynihan, is an absentee this year but Scotland is still well represented by Neil, from Blairgowrie, who was runner-up at both this year’s South African Stroke Play and European Nations Cup; reigning national champion Zander Culverwell; 2013 SGU Order of Merit winner Jack McDonald; and Scott Borrowman, who headed the field at the recent Scottish Champion of Champions event at Leven.

The 2013 Welsh champion, Jack Bush, also tees up as do young Englishmen McCullen, winner of the recent Peter McEvoy Trophy at Copt Heath, and Penge.

The Irish Open Stroke Play Championship was inaugurated back in 1892 and has produced a steady stream of illustrious winners. In addition to Oosthuizen, John Ball, Harold Hilton, Jimmy Bruen, Joe Carr, Pádraig Harrington, Michael Hoey and Richie Ramsay all have won on at least one occasion.

Italy’s Renato Paratore was the leading European at the recent Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, South Carolina.

The 17-year-old from Rome carded rounds of 72, 73 and 73 to finish in seventh place behind 2013 US Junior Amateur champion Scottie Scheffler on 2-over-par 218.

Earlier this year Paratore won for the first time in the States when he captured the Junior Orange Bowl International in Florida and he went on to play an important role in Europe’s victory over Asia Pacific in the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy in India before making his second trip to the States.

The Junior Invitational at Sage Valley attracted nine European entrants. The next best was Florida-based Englishman Sam Horsfield, who celebrated his inclusion in the GB&I St Andrews Trophy squad by carding rounds of 70, 77 and 75 to finish in a tie for 15th place on 222.

Farther down the leaderboard Germany’s Michael Hirmer, the runner-up to Ewen Ferguson at last year’s Boys’ Amateur Championship, shared 29th place with Ireland’s Dawson and Keegan de Lange from South Africa. Penge was the leading English player in 34th place while Germany’s Dominic Foos was tied 37th, Ireland’s Paul McBride was tied 42nd, England’s Ashton Turner was 48th and Poland’s Jan Szmidt was 50th in the 51-man field.

Scheffler lived up to his billing as the top-ranked player in the field by posting rounds of 71, 69 and 71 to finish a single shot ahead of compatriot Cameron Champ on 5-under-par 211.

Penge and Turner will be making another trip across the Atlantic later on this month in order to represent England at the Thunderbird International in Scottsdale, Arizona. The English duo will be bidding to emulate fellow Englishman Max Orrin, who claimed the title two years ago.

Luke Johnson consolidated his fine start to the 2014 season when he beat local favourite Jimmy Mullen by three shots to win the West of England Amateur Championship at Royal North Devon.

The 21-year-old from King’s Lynn Golf Club in Norfolk carded rounds of 68, 77, 69 and 72 in difficult conditions to finish three shots head of Mullen and six in front of Jack Davis of Aston Wood.

Johnston’s victory was his second of the season, having also tasted success at the Berkhamsted Trophy earlier in the month. The 18-year-old Mullen was also chasing a second title of 2014 having previously won the prestigious Duncan Putter at Southerndown.

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