South East: Men’s County qualifier

Conor Gough, who shot a 61 at Eaton

Gough flirts with bagging a back nine of birdies to help BB&O reach Remedy Oak showpiece

SOUTH EAST: Monday, July 12th

2019 Walker Cup player Conor Cough came close to birdieing every hole on his back nine as he led BB&O to victory in the South East County qualifier at Eaton.

The 18-year-old from Stoke Park shot what is believed to be a course record nine under par 61 in the second round of the 36-hole strokeplay event. After starting on the tenth he turned in 32 (-3) and then birdied the next six holes before going agonisingly close with three birdie putts inside 12 feet to close out.

His remarkable effort helped BB&O claim a place in September’s national final at Remedy Oak by seven shots having been in fifth place at halfway.

With the best five from six being counted for the first time at the ten-county competition, BB&O were collectively 17 under par in the afternoon with Woburn’s brilliant junior Ben Loveard following up his morning 66 with a 65 while Wales Youths champion Ben Quick (Beaconsfield) shot a 67.

For county captain Simon Hopkins, in the final term of his three-year stint, it was incredibly satisfying to witness BBO recapture the title they last won three years ago at Orsett (Essex).

“I walked with Conor and he left two on the edge on that back nine so came close to breaking 60,” said the Heythrop Park member.

“It was also an another excellent performance from Ben and he is turning into a very good player. Ben Quick, who was tied fourth at the Berkshire, shoots three under in the afternoon and then Olly Huggins comes straight over from England training and also shoots 67 in the morning after a catching a bad lie (at his last hole where he recorded a double bogey).

“It was the first year of playing five from six but we still would have won it under the old rules (all scores counting). It was a great team effort.”

A two-over-par 72 was BB&O’s highest across 12 rounds as they were able to put out a formidable-looking side, which also included for former England Boys international Harrison Arnold (Castle Royle) and experienced and hugely-consistent Rory Browne (Feldon Valley).

Essex and Surrey led on 12 under after the first round. Walker Cup ace Jack Dyer (Boyce Hill) opened up with a 65, a score matched by Addington Palace’s Charlie Crockett.

In the afternoon none of the Surrey sextet could break par and they finished sixth while the biggest challenge to BB&O came from last year’s national champions Kent with Dartford’s Mason Essam (66) helping his county finish on 18 under.

BB&O will meet Warwickshire, Gloucestershire and the winners of the Northern qualifier at the Dorset venue on September 24-26. 

Top 10 (par 70)
1) BB&O 342 + 333 = 675 (-25)
Harrison Arnold (Castle Royle) 71, 72
Rory Browne (Feldon Valley) 69, 70
Conor Gough (Stoke Park) 69, 71
Ollie Huggins (Frilford Heath) 67, 70
Ben Loveard (Woburn) 66, 65
Ben Quick (Beaconsfield) 71, 67
2) Kent 339 + 343 = 682 (-18)
3) Sussex 341 + 342 = 683 (-17)
4) Essex 338 + 348 = 686 (-14)
5) Hampshire 346 + 342 = 688 (-12)
6) Surrey 338 + 353 = 691 (-9)
7) Suffolk 348 + 349 = 697 (-3)
8) Middlesex 349 + 352 = 701 (+1)
9) Hertfordshire 351 + 353 =  704 (+4)
10) Norfolk 350 + 360 = 710 (+10)
For all the scores click here