Opens: Lagonda Trophy

Kent golfer Ben Quinney, winner of the Lagonda Trophy

Sensational first amateur title for Kent hero

OPENS: Friday May 28th

Last year’s hero of Kent became the toast of Gog Magog last night as Ben Quinney claimed the coveted Lagonda Trophy.

The 21-year-old Kings Hill GC player holed the winning putt as his county won the English County Championship for only the second time in their history last September but this time around the victory was personal as he registered four rounds in the 60s to win by one shot from Essex’s Jack Garnett at the Cambridgeshire course.

It was Ben’s first significant victory and sees him follow in the footsteps of Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Ollie Fisher and Andy Sullivan in claiming the title although thoughts of winning were far from his head on day one.

“I had no expectations of winning,” said Ben, who had not long returned from three months playing in Portugal as part of his degree course at the St Mellion-based Tournament Golf College. “It was my first tournament of the year and it was one really just to get used to the card being back in my hand and to get used to competing again. But maybe that settled my nerves because I wasn’t heaping expectations on myself.”

With dad Dave as caddie, the Kent golfer’s fears he was too rusty to challenge appeared to be realised as he bogeyed the first two holes.

“I just thought oh here we go,” added Ben. “But I managed to put in a really solid round and got a good feeling ahead of round two.”

Back-to-back birdies on seven and eight got him back on an even keel and he stayed bogey free to post an opening 69 and was one of only three in the field to break par in the morning. Woburn’s Ben Loveard also shot one under, two back of first-round leader Alfie Hickman (Langley Park).

A second round 65 spread-eagled the field and left him five clear of Loveard, Hickman and Max Hopkins (Bishops Stortford) at halfway.

“Once again it was really solid stuff but I just holed a few more putts.”

Ben Quinney (right) with dad and caddie Dave

The following morning there was a big moment at the fifth. After birdieing the third he drilled his second under the lip of a fairway bunker and was advised he had to take an unplayable lie (and take a penalty drop). However he challenged the ruling and eventually got a free drop under imbedded ball rule but still missed the green with his third and failed to get up and down for a double bogey.

With Jack Garnett (Five Lakes) making up ground in the group ahead there was a possibility his big lead could quickly disappear but Ben again birdied the par fives (7&8) and he played the back nine in one under to stay five clear of the field, led by the Essex man.

In the afternoon Jack grabbed four birdies on the front night and added two more on 12 and 13 to close right up before a critical bogey on the par five next gave Ben some breathing space, especially after the Kings Hill player had just holed out for a crucial birdie on 12.

However the real heart-stopping moment for the soon-to-be-champion came on 16 where he missed the green 20 yards left and, with the pin tight to the left and few options because of the unfavourable contouring in front of him, he reasoned a flop shot off the bare lie was the best way to save par.

“Me and my dad chatted about it for about a minute. He said play the safest shot and after we went through the options the flop shot was just that.”

So out came the 60-degree wedge and he pulled it off in great style, the ball landing six feet short and rolling four feet left of the pin. That par kept him two in front but his short games skills would be required again to secure matters.

Playing the 72nd hole, and not knowing how far behind Jack was, he overclubbed with his approach but managed to chip to four feet. He missed the putt but tapped in for bogey and was quickly informed that victory was his.

“I’m not sure knowing the situation playing the last would have been a good thing,” admitted Ben. “It could have really ramped up the pressure and there were a lot of people milling around by this point so it was already starting to be a little disconcerting.”

While many of the country’s leading amateurs are taking part in the Scottish Open this weekend at Southerness, Ben will be joining them next week for the much-anticipated St Andrew’s Links Trophy (June 4-6).

Top 10 scores (par 70)
1) Ben Quinney (Kings Hill) 69, 65, 68, 69, 271
2) Jack Garnett (Five Lakes) 72, 68, 67, 65, 272
3) Edward Dimambro (Gog Magog) 71, 74, 66, 67, 278
4) Ben Loveard (Woburn) 69, 70, 72, 68, 279
5) Max Hopkins (Bishops Stortford) 70, 69, 70, 70, 279
6) Reis Suart (Welwyn Garden City) 73, 71, 67, 70, 281
7) Greg Hurley (The Hertfordshire)  71, 70, 74, 67, 282
8) Jack Bigham (Harpenden) 70, 71, 70, 71, 282
9) Aadam Syed (Foxhills) 72, 71, 70, 70, 283
10= Josh Berry (Doncaster) 72, 70, 70, 72, 284
10= Jack Brooks (The Mere) 71, 71, 71, 72, 285
For full scores click here