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Wells wins at Effingham

Alex Wells holds the English Under 18 Championship trophy at Effingham Golf Club in Surrey.

Surrey’s own Alex Wells used his local knowledge to perfection as he claimed victory in the English Under 18 Amateur Championship which he described as his ‘biggest achievement’ yet.

The St George’s Hill golfer fired consecutive rounds of 68 on the first two days of the championship before carding back-to-back rounds of 70 on Sunday for a 276 (-12) total at Effingham Golf Club. He finished two shots clear of Daniel Hayes and Oliver Toyer in second.

Wells was overjoyed with emotion and struggled to comprehend the magnitude of his achievement when being presented with the trophy.

He said: “It means a lot. To win an event like this is truly incredible. This is my biggest achievement in my golfing career so far.

“I knew that it was going to be playing firm much like a lot of the courses around here. It’s quite similar to St George’s Hill. I knew I had to keep it in play and the fringes were firm, so I could run a few shots up and that’s what I did well.

“I think I was two-under on the front-nine and then I tried to keep it together and hit the fairways and keep it as solid as possible. I knew my game was in a good place, but to keep mentally strong and play one shot at a time was my secret!”

Wells and Hayes started the last day of the 72-hole stroke play event in a three-way tie for the lead alongside Drew Sykes.

With Sykes slipping back after carding a third-round score of 74, that left the pair of Wells and Hayes fighting it out for top spot to begin the final round. Still, nothing could separate them, as the duo entered the afternoon level at -10 after they both turned in scorecards totalling 70.

As the fourth and final round got underway, Hayes edged ahead through the front-nine after couple of birdies saw him leap out to -13. Wells though wouldn’t go down without a fight.

After seeing the Bramhall golfer make a decent birdie on 9, Wells followed through with an impressive birdie putt of his own to move on to -12 and keep the gap at one-shot as they made the turn.

Whilst the two leaders were battling it out between each other in the final group, Toyer had already begun his late charge through the field.

An eagle and a birdie on 8 and 9 kickstarted his surge and when three more birdies came on the back-nine, the player from St Neots soon found himself with the clubhouse lead on -10.

At this stage, Hayes had made a bogey on 11 which gave Wells a look in and an opportunity that wouldn’t be passed upon.

A spectacular chip from the middle of the fairway would have been the shot of the day had it have gone in, but unfortunately, the ball cannoned off the flagstick and kicked back into the middle of the green. However, the Surrey golfer was able to eventually hole his putt for par and bring the scores level.

From that point on, momentum swung the way of Wells. A disastrous double bogey on 13 for Hayes and a par for Wells saw him gain a two-shot advantage as they headed down the stretch.

However, the job was far from finished in a tightly contested field. A tee shot on 17 for Wells almost went sailing out of bounds, but a lucky break kept it in play and a lovely up and down onto the green allowed him to make a birdie.

Then came the all-important moment. Wells knew he just had to keep calm coming down 18 and the title would be his.

“I was quite nervous coming down the stretch, but I can breathe again now.

“I was thinking ‘don’t thin it into the clubhouse and just bump one into the slope!’ I was so relieved and so pleased [when the putt dropped in].”

A fantastic drive almost reached the green, before he chipped on and two-putted for par to seal victory from Hayes and Toyer.

The large crowd following the final group erupted into cheers as Wells embraced family and friends to claim his first major trophy after what has been a tough couple of months.

Fellow playing partner and co-leader on day two, Sykes, recovered well after his third-round mishap to clinch fourth on seven-under par ahead of the seventh placed trio of Monty Holcombe, Edward Featherstone and Stan White.

Eaton’s Nellie Ong was the leading girl in eighth, whilst day one leader Philipp Krone and England girls’ squad player Sophia Fullbrook rounded out the top ten.

Next year’s English Under 18 Amateur Championship will take place at Hesketh Golf Club in Lancashire.


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