Harley Smith today became only the second player in history to win the Carris Trophy and McGregor Trophy in the same year – and was then thrilled to field a call from Justin Rose whose record he matched.
The England boys’ squad player won the McGregor (English Open Stroke Play for under 16 boys) last week at Camberley Heath Golf Club and today added the Carris (English Open Stroke Play for under 18 boys) to his trophy haul after a thrilling final day’s play at Bristol and Clifton Golf Club in Gloucestershire.
Smith closed with a one over par round of 71 adding to previous rounds of 67, 66 and 68 to post a winning total of 272 (-8).
That gave him a three-shot victory over Italy’s Riccardo Fantinelli (63,70,67,75) and Scotland’s Calum Scott (68,67,68,72) who were tied on five under par for the championship.
That achievement drew instant recognition from former US Open champion Rose who contacted Smith with a congratulatory message minutes after he sank a birdie putt on the final hole.
Twenty-six years ago, Rose won the McGregor Trophy at Radcliffe-on-Trent Golf Club and the Carris at Burnham and Berrow Golf Club as a promising amateur.
After being contacted by the Ryder Cup legend, Smith said with a smile: “I had a voice call from him – I respect Justin a lot as one of England’s greatest ever players.
“I think he’s done a lot for the English game and I’m very happy to put my name alongside his in the hall of fame.
“I do get goosebumps because of what he’s done in the game of golf – it’s unbelievable and he’s what I would like to be in a few years’ time.”
Fantinelli headed into the final round with a one-shot lead having also started the tournament by firing a new course record score of 63 in round one.
A closing round of 75 saw him share second place with Nairn’s Scott.
The talented Highlander was one shot adrift of Smith playing the final hole after chipping in from off the green for an amazing birdie two at the 17th.
However, he could only bogey the 18th while Smith managed a birdie to claim a victory that looks more comfortable on paper than it was in real time.
When the dust settled, there was no doubt that the Essex golfer deserved his victory as he continued his hot streak of play.
Today’s one-over par round under extreme pressure and in windy and fast running conditions was the only time in his last eight competitive rounds that he has failed to shoot in the 60s.
Smith – from the Rayleigh Club - has the enviable quality of appearing unflappable on the course, but his nonchalance should not be mistaken for a lack of focus.
On the contrary, he knew what he had to do this week to win and executed the plan to perfection.
He added: “Coming into this event I had a bit of form from last week and I had to knuckle down, map out the course the best I could in the practice round and it paid off.
“I had a good gameplan and didn’t take on anything stupid.
“On the back nine, I was two clear with two to play but then Calum played an unreal chip shot on 17 which, to be fair, I thought he would hole. A great shot.
“On the last – luckily for me – he didn’t have the greatest chip and putt which took the pressure off me.”
At points in the final round, there was the threat of a challenge from outside the final group.
Auchterarder’s Daniel Bullen was only one shot back through 13 holes, but a quadruple bogey at the 15th ended his hopes of ending a fine week with a trophy.
Royal Liverpool’s Matt Dodd-Berry flew under the radar for most of the week and couldn’t quite get close enough to put real pressure on the final three going down the stretch despite a fine effort.
Smith now heads to next week’s English Amateur Championship, jointly-staged at Moortown and Headingley golf clubs, happy to be riding the crest of a wave.
He added: “I’ll do my best to put up a fight next week – I have a nice draw and hopefully I can get to the match play and see what happens from there.”