Robert Holden and Hannah Screen emerged triumphant at the inaugural English Under 25 Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship held over the Duchess Course at Woburn Golf Club.
England international Screen, from Berkhamsted, fired a four-under par round of 69 in the final round to finish the 54-hole tournament on level par and win by seven shots from Kings Hill’s Ellena Slater.
Holden – who plays out of Letchworth, but has country membership at Woburn – earned a one-shot victory in the men’s event. Holden pipped Freddie MacArthur from Ullesthorpe Court thanks to a brave par on the final hole for a -4 total.
Holden made the most of his home advantage to win by a single shot
Robert Holden made the most of his local knowledge to claim a dramatic victory around his ‘home’ track of Woburn. In fact, last year Holden won the Woburn Club Championship and needed all of his know-how around the Duchess Course to win by the smallest of margins.
He said: “It’s amazing – it was nerve-wracking at the end. I felt like I had a bit of an advantage over some people on a few holes as I knew where to put the ball. It definitely helped. There’s a few places you can’t miss and you have to be sensible and take irons off the tee.”
With Freddie MacArthur already safely in the clubhouse on a score of -3, Holden needed a par the last to claim a one-shot win. However, his approach found a greenside bunker and he then left himself with a six-footer for par to get over the line. The ball may have done a lap of honour, but it did eventually drop and Holden was thrilled to become the inaugural winner of this event after shooting rounds of 68, 72 and 72 for a tally of 212 (-4).
“I missed a couple of putts a few holes before it – they lipped out,” he added. “I thought that was going to lip out as well, but it caught the edge and went in. I tried to not look at the leaderboard the whole way round. I saw a glimpse on 17 and I didn’t know if it was right. I didn’t know what I had to do up the last – I just tried to play the last few holes as well as I could and thankfully ended up winning by one.”
The day started with Welshman Toby Bishop two shots clear of Holden and George Mason. However, as Bishop (79) and Mason (76) dropped off the pace Holden stayed true to his mantra of finding fairways and trying to minimise the errors. The biggest threat to Holden came from MacArthur who needed a birdie at the last to put pressure on Holden playing in the group behind – only to come up agonisingly short with a putt from 30 feet. Bramshaw’s Joe Buenfeld took third place after a fine two under par round of 70 left him on -1 for the championship.
Hannah Screen posted a stunning final round of 69 to blow away the rest of the field and claim the women’s title. On a perfect day for golf on the Duchess Course at Woburn, the Berkhamsted golfer was in imperious form and her four-under par round was the best of the week.
Screen finished on level par (219) for the 54-hole event and claimed a seven-shot victory over her nearest challenger, Ellena Slater from Kings Hill.
At the start of the day, Abbie Teasdale (Royal Fremantle), Julie Kerrigan (Hendon) and Tilly Garfoot (Woodhall Spa) led the way on +3.However, the final group stumbled over the opening holes and never recovered. Screen was able to cash in with a flying start and race into the lead. A lead she never looked in danger of surrendering.
Birdies at the second, third and sixth holes catapulted the England international into pole position. Bogeys at eight and nine proved little more than speed bumps on the road to victory. Another birdie at 10 meant that the Oklahoma University graduate had a four-shot lead over Slater going into the closing stretch and she never looked like giving it up.
Screen said: “It feels so great – it’s been six years since I had a win and feels so good to get one back. I stayed present and had a great strategy into every hole and was confident into every shot.”
To top off a perfect day, Screen played a brilliant shot from a restricted angle on the 18th and left herself with a 30-foot putt. In true champion fashion, the putt dropped and Screen was able to share the moment with dad Nick who had supported her down the stretch and caddied for the final hole!
“The putt on the last felt great – it was pretty long,” said Screen. “Dad showed up late – and I said ‘hop on the bag for a hole and we can enjoy it’. I stayed consistent all day and focused on one shot at time which you need to do because it’s a tough golf course. I was a little bit more aware of the scores towards the end, but I tried to enjoy it.”
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