Class act Jenson makes history at Farnham
EG: Monday June 28th
Walsall’s Jenson Forrester showed considerable golfing maturity to leave the best juniors in the country trailing in his wake at the inaugural England U-18s Championship at Farnham yesterday.
The 17-year-old, who won the Midlands Closed Championship last year, took the lead in the second round of the weather-affected, 64-hole strokeplay event and closed things out superbly, even after a triple bogey threatened to derail his title assault in round three.
For the first time an England Golf field was split evenly between the sexes and home favourite Lottie Woad was his biggest challenger. The Surrey and England star led after round one and battled gamely after a slow start to her third round, eventually finishing second, three shots adrift of the Staffordshire junior.
However there was a considerable silver lining for Lottie. As the leading girl she will be invited to an LET event this year, courtesy of Modest Golf Management, who have also secured a Challenge Tour place for Jenson.
The victory also puts him in line for a spot in the England Boys squad and he will almost certainly play in the Boys Home Internationals at Woodhall Spa in August (4th-6th).
Jenson secured the title in slightly odd circumstances. With stormy conditions concerning event organisers, the final round was reduced to ten holes, which the leader played in two under to ensure nobody got near him.
“It is a fantastic feeling to have done it,” said the Walsall junior. “Obviously I would have preferred to play 72 holes but it didn’t bother me when they told us. It didn’t affect me in anyway.
“I really hope that gets me on to the WAGR system because it’s really hard to get on it and hopefully an England call-up too.”
A first-round 71 left Jenson three behind Lottie, who had seven birdies in posting a four-under par 68 while Harpenden’s Jack Bigham, Thorndon Park’s Rory Bennet and Burhill’s Elliot MacGregor were just one shot behind.
The next day (Saturday), the Walsall youngster went into overdrive, hitting 15 greens and had just one bogey when he missed a two-footer at 15. Seven birdies put him one ahead of Lottie, who overcame the blow of a triple bogey at the 12th to record another 68. An eagle at the last certainly helped.
With just 44 of the 132 making the cut, the survivors were due to play 36 holes and Lottie and Jenson were paired together.
The Farnham golfer lost ground after a poor run at the third, fourth and fifth while her playing partner recorded a seven after he pull hooked his usually-reliable 4 iron into gorse and got too ambitious with the recovery shot.
At that point Close House’s Maggie Whitehead and Zach Little (West Herts) were right in the mix but Jenson responded with four birdies on the bounce including a stunning three at the 12th when he drilled a 4 iron approach shot to five feet from 200 yards out. He followed that up with 20-footer from off the green to get back to nine under par.
“Those two holes were really pivotal because on both you are just thinking about getting pars and getting on to the next hole,” said Jenson.
A two-under-par 70 left him two ahead of Jack Bigham but the leader played the final ten holes like an experienced campaigner.
“I didn’t take anything on in the fourth round,” he added. “ I just went for the middle of the greens.”
The field played one thru four and ten 13 thru 18 and there was one scare for the soon-to-be champion. At the 13th his tee shot ended up in the deep stuff but manufactured a staggeringly good 20-yard chip to three feet and he holed the par putt.
“Afterwards one of the members said everyone watching thought the best I was going to do was a four.”
He would birdie 18 to round things off in style and now he can look forward to the Carris Trophy (England Boys U-18s) next month and then the British Boys in August as the one to watch.