Harley Smith strolled to victory, whilst Rachel Gourley stumbled across the finishing line at the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship over the Old Course at Walton Heath.
Smith And Gourley Claim Justin Rose Daily Telegraph Titles
Hosted and supported by former world number one, Justin Rose, it was Harley Smith, 16, who delivered a commanding performance on the final day, with a closing round of 63 giving him a comprehensive 13-stroke victory over Walton Heath’s, Kris Kim.
In the girls’ event, things were a lot more tense, as 17-year-old, Rachel Gourley, finished with a quadruple bogey eight at the final hole. However, despite the big number, she managed to avoid a play-off with Farnham’s Lottie Woad, winning by a single shot margin.
With rounds of 70, 67 and 63 for a 16 under par total, Smith actually surpassed the achievements of the tournament host and sponsor. Although the Olympic Gold Medallist collected the Carris Trophy (England Under-18s) and McGregor Trophy (England Under-16s) in the same season, he failed to capture the Telegraph Junior Championship for the trio of victories, securing the trophy in a different year.
“It’s brilliant to emulate Justin but even go one better by winning all three events in the same year,” said Smith, who, at one stage, was on track for the course record, with only 12 and 7-foot birdie putts eluding him at the last few holes.
“To follow in his footsteps and win the tournament that carries his name is very special. It’s been an amazing year and this week caps it off. From chatting to Justin and getting his advice on how we should progress as golfers, to shooting 63 over one of my favourite courses in the UK.”
There were also notable performances from Kris Kim, who, at just 13 years of age, finished in a tie for second place with Slaley Hall’s Angus Buchanan.
The girls’ title also appeared to be a walk in the park for Gourley, until a meltdown at the final hole nearly cost her dearly.
Holding a five-stroke lead over Woad on nine under par, Gourley pulled her drive at the last and proceeded to stumble her way towards the green, taking a penalty drop and going out of bounds, before ultimately holing from seven feet for an eight and the silverware.
A dazed Gourley admitted afterwards: “After taking a penalty drop following my tee shot, I just seemed to go into panic mode and somehow managed to recover in time. Right now, I am experiencing a rush of emotions – excitement at winning and disappointment about how I messed up the last. Overall, though, I have to be proud of the way I made that last putt.”
Speaking after the event, Rose praised the two new champions, saying: “Congratulations to Harley and Rachel on getting their names up in lights today and for managing their game around a technical and difficult golf course.
“I hope this will act as a springboard and a spur to go on to greater achievements. I am certainly invested in keeping a close eye on their progress in the future – as I will with all the finalists – and I hope the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Championship has played a vital part in their development.”