England Golf: Boys Championship

REMARKABLE DOUBLE: Harley Smith with the Carris Trophy (England U-18s), a week after he collected the McGregor Trophy (England U-16s)

Harley matches Justin Rose’s achievement of winning Carris and McGregor in same year

EG: Friday, July 23th

FORMAT: 72-hole strokeplay

On a day of unrelenting drama at the England Boys, recent U-16s champion Harley Smith emerged unscathed and found himself in a very special club.

The 16-year-old Essex player has been threatening to hit some pretty incredible heights for some time but his three shot-victory at Bristol & Clifton meant he became the first player since 1995 to win the Carris and McGregor trophies in the same season.

The only other person to do it – Justin Rose – had been contacted yesterday and left a message for the delighted teenager.

“This guy just came over and said he had a message from Justin Rose,” said Harley, who was accompanied on his trip by long-time coach David March.

“It was a voicemail and he (Rose) said congratulations, excellent playing and I will see you on tour soon.

“It was a real class thing to do and amazing from someone who has achieved so much and is so professional.”

Harley was aware that a victory would match the former Olympic champion’s feat and the remarkable ice-cool composure he displayed further confirms that his potential is considerable.

Harley added: “I didn’t feel nervous at any point in the round. I just stuck to my thing. I went into the tournament with a lot of confidence. I had mapped out the course in practice and knew I had a good game-plan.”

Conditions yesterday contributed to the volatility of the fourth round scoring. The tranquil heat of the last ten days gave way to blustery winds.

Harley was in the final group and started the day on nine under, one behind Italian leader Riccardo Fantinelli, who had set the tone for what was to follow the previous day by playing the last 11 holes in six under par to fight his way back to the top of the leaderboard. The Surrey-based player had been three over for his first six holes on Thursday.

Harvey chips across the edge of the bunker on 18 to seal the deal. Tweet courtesy of @KingIan

Playing alongside them was Scotland’s Calum Scott (Nairn), who had beaten Harley at the first extra hole in their last 16 tie at the British Amateur last month. He was three behind Fantinelli as they teed off.

And once again the Italian got off to a slow start. After seven holes he was three over for his round.

Harley added: “As we were walking up eight I said to Calum ‘this is what he did yesterday’. It was like flicking a switch and he just went but he didn’t quite have it today.”

With nine to go Harley led by one from both his playing partners and Scotland’s Daniel Bullen, who was in the penultimate group and would go bogey free until the 14th, at which point he went bogey, double bogey, bogey to drop out of it.

With Harley and Fantinelli bogeying 11 and Scott doing the same at the next, Bullen briefly led but then his fellow countryman looked like he was going to be the one to grab the tournament by the scruff of the neck as the Nairn teenager birdied 13 and 15 to get himself to seven under and level with Harley.

That all changed at 16 with Scott double bogeying. With Fantinelli having also bogeyed 15, the soon-to-be champion was now back to two ahead but the tension was ramped up as the Scottish player responded by chipping in from a “tough” spot at 17 for a birdie two.

With the par five to finish, Harley displayed all his now-renowned composure by reaching the edge of the green in two and executing a tricky chip to perfection. He flicked the ball across the edge of the bunker to two feet. Scott eventually closed out with a bogey to finish level with Fantinelli.

Aswell as Justin Rose, Harley was bombarded with messages of congratulations from friends, family and his fellow England Boys squad members.

But there is little time for the Rayleigh club star to dwell on the magntiude of his achievement.

Next week he travels north for the England Amateur Championship, starting his challenge at Moortown on Tuesday alongside last year’s runner-up Callan Barrow (Royal Lytham) and Dubai-based teenager Josh Hill, who knows a thing or two capturing headlines after he became the youngest player to a win a WAGR-ranked event in 2019 when he was just 15.

“I haven’t slept that much over the last couple of days,” added Harley. “So I will catch up on sleep this weekend and then we go again.

“I have got the practice round on Monday and then the target is to make the cut and see what I can do in the matchplay. I haven’t played Headingley but I have played Moortown and its a beautiful course.”

Leading scores (par 70)
1) Harley Smith (The Rayleigh) 67, 66, 68, 71, 272 (-8)
2) Calum Scott (Nairn) 68, 67, 68, 72, 275 (-5)
3) Riccardo Fantinelli (Fioranllo) 63, 70, 67, 75, 275 (-5)
4) Matthew Dodd-Berry (Royal Liverpool) 68, 70, 68, 71, 277 (-3)
5) Daniel Bullen (Auchterarder) 67, 67, 70, 73, 277 (-3)
6) Jack Bigham (Harpenden) 74, 68, 65, 71, 278 (-2)
7) Frank Kennedy (Trump National Jupiter) 71, 71, 67, 70, 279 (-1)
8) Hugh Adams (Hagley) 71, 67, 77, 67, 282 (+2)
9) Will Coxon (Carus Green) 73, 72, 69, 68 , 282 (+2)
10) Reis Suart (Welwyn Garden City) 70, 67, 73, 72, 282 (+2)
For all the scores click here