EGA: Spanish Men’s International Amateur (day five)

EYES ON A HUGE PRIZE: Finalist John Gough (The Berkshire)

‘Proud’ Gough faces Norwegian teenager for major European title

EGA: Saturday, March 5th

FORMAT: 36-hole strokeplay/6-round matchplay

It’s been an excellent 18 months for John Gough but he can take his standing within the amateur game to another level tomorrow with victory in the final of the Spanish Men’s International Amateur.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough 2020/21 playing collegiate golf in Charlotte and took that into last summer, with the undoubted highlight being victory in the English Amateur at Moortown.

But the field this week has been the strongest seen in Europe since the Covid outbreak and the manner in which Gough has navigated his way to tomorrow’s showdown with Norwegian teenager Michael Mjaaseth has been highly impressive.

Yesterday he enjoyed two big victories in reaching the last eight but today both his quarter-final and last four matches were much tigher affairs.

“I am very proud of myself,” said the The Berkshire player, who has been assisted by British Boys champion Jack Bigham, who has been caddyingfor him since the second round.

“And I am very comfortable with my game right now. Yesterday I didn’t play my best golf and today I was blagging it a bit. The putts weren’t dropping as much but I was hitting it so close there was no danger of me three putting.”

MODEL OF CONSISTENCY: John Gough’s performances in major events since June last year

His last eight clash with Irish international Hugh Foley was a classic ding-dong battle and went to extra holes before Gough holed out from five feet for a birdie at the 20th to reach the semi-finals.

But under an hour earlier he was trying to recover from miscounting and conceding the 15th when he had a chance to halve it.

It also meant he went one down and he also realised his mistake before he got to the 16th tee. However he recovered his composure superbly and was back on level terms two holes later.  A brilliant recovery shot out of the trees set up a birdie on the par five 17th while his opponent could only manage a par. 

The last was halved in pars and the Englishman shaved the hole with his birdie putt at the first extra hole before sticking his approach close while Foley put his second to 10 feet but couldn’t match Gough’s birdie.

In the afternoon, with the wind drying out the course and the pins tought to get to, the BB&O star controlled his ball superbly and went one up against Germany’s Yannick Malik in the semi-final on the second and was never headed, seeing out the match on the 17th green.

Malik did, critically, halve the gap at the 15th, but his opponent hit back straight away to go two up with two to play. Both his good drives at the short par four 16th and had 50 yards left. Malik put his second to ten feet and failed with the birdie attempt while the BB&O star fired his approach to three feet and made no mistake.

At the par five 17th, Malik had a chance to get to the green in two put just came up short whereas his opponent laid up to 95 yards and put his third to five feet. The putt dropped for his second birdie in a row and place in the showpiece final.

The competition has been previously won by Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia while Danny Willett also won it in 2008 on his way to reaching No 1 in the amateur world rankings. 

Today’s results – Quarter-finals
• Mauro Gilardi (SWI, 15) lost to Yannick Malik (GER, 9) 3&1
• John Gough (The Berkshire, ENG, 5) beat Hugh Foley (IRE, 29) 20th
• Rory Franssen (Auchterader, SCO, 19) lost to Michael Mjaaseth (NOR, 11) 19th
• Markus Luoma (FIN, 23) lost to Luis Madaveu Roncal (SPA, 18) 20th
• Yannick Malik (GER, 9) lost to John Gough (The Berkshire, ENG, 5) 2&1
• Michael Mjaaseth (NOR, 11) beat Luis Madaveu Roncal (SPA, 18)  1 hole