Second major strokeplay title for fast-finishing Zach
Opens: Monday, Sept 6th
FORMAT: 72-hole strokeplay
Another storming final round this time gave Essex’s Zach Chegwidden the victory at the South East of England Links Championship.
Two weeks ago the 23-year-old shot a course record 64 at Ganton to mount a remarkable late charge at the English Strokeplay Championship (Brabazon) but fellow England international Sam Bairstow (Hallowes) held him off.
At Royal Cinque Ports he closed with a six-under-par 66 to win by three shots from Derbyshire’s Samuel Potter (Kedleston Park) and for the Orsett player it was the perfect way to celebrate his first international call-up. Next week (Sept 15-17) he will represent England in the Home Internationals at Hankley Common.
“It’s been a bit mad,” admitted Zach, who also won the prestigious Berkshire Trophy in June.
“My goal at the start of the year was to gain selection for the Home Internationals so I’m buzzing for it now. It’s great to go into it with so much confidence. I’m really looking forward to playing for England. It’s going to be so much fun.”
Zach certainly had fun on the final day of the competition, which is jointly staged by Royal Cinque Ports (RCP) and round two host Royal St George’s.
At halfway he was five shots back of Potter and Scotland’s Oliver Mukherjee (Gullane) but the two leaders came back to the field on the final morning while Zach’s one-under-par 71 placed him three behind 54-hole leader John Gough (Stoke Park), the England Amateur champion.
In the early stages of his final round, Zach enjoyed a frustrating time on the greens but a birdie on seven started a run of six threes in a row.
“I lipped out for birdie on the first four holes but I kept giving myself chances,” added Zach, who is the third Essex player in a row to win the illustrious title after Jack Brown (2019) and Jack Dyer (2020).
“At the seventh I took my jacket off to putt and golfers, being the superstitious bunch that we are, that meant I had to do the same every time I was on the green and I one-putted the next six greens.”
After parring the par three eighth, a stunning approach to the next – a long par four – set up his second birdie of the day to get himself under par for the round.
After rolling one in from four feet, he converted another short birdie opportunity at the tenth, knocked one in from 10 feet at the next and then did likewise from double that distance at the 12th.
Further birdies at 16 and 17 – he had holed out for a three from almost the identical place in the morning – saw him come home in 31 and, after a 90-minute wait in the clubhouse, he was confirmed as champion.
Potter’s closing 68 saw him jump into second, relegating Gough to third, while Zach’s efforts on the final day also helped him win the 36-hole Prince of Wales Challenge Cup by five shots from Southport and Ainsdale’s Jack Mcphail.