Welsh Amateur: Thomas Bounces Back

Luke Thomas bounced back from a year in the international golf wilderness to claim the Welsh Amateur title at Southerndown.

View full championship scores here

He beat Rhys Enoch three and two in the final, whose younger brother Ben also lost in the final last year before tragically dying in a car crash earlier this summer.

It denied Truro’s Enoch what would have been an emotional victory and would also have boosted hopes as he awaits news of the Walker Cup team selection, but he can still be proud of his week during an immensely difficult summer.

Vale of Glamorgan’s Thomas was delighted to have learned the lessons from being left out of the Wales squad last summer, bouncing back this time round by working much harder at his game and coming through to beat more fancied players.

He trailed by a single hole after the first 18 of the final, but was able to turn it round through the middle part of the second round to take a three hole lead with four holes to play.

“It feels fantastic to be the Welsh Amateur champion,” said 24-year-old Thomas after his victory.

“Coming into the week I did not think I would be the champion, to be honest, but I have played good golf and I have been happy with things.

“I was playing really well coming into the tournament, a couple of top seven finishes put me in really good stead for the event itself, and I kept that going.

“It has been a difficult week considering we had the first day rained off, which is quite a shock because this course normally holds up really well with the water, but the rain was torrential.

“It is tough grinding it out in waterproofs and then the next minute you are in a T-shirt, but it is a good test of golf.

“Last year I came out of the Welsh squad which was a fault of my doing, not practicing enough, but the year before that I did work hard and got into the Home Internationals side.

“Last year was a bit of an eye opener and it got me playing better this year, so I am happy with how it has gone this week.

“Obviously now there are the Home Internationals in a few weeks and that will be a big boost for my confidence and we can see where I go from there.

“I have learned the lesson, the proof is that you have got to work hard and the results will come when you do practice hard.

“I have known Rhys and his brother Ben, who tragically passed away, for many years and he is a tough player – all through the match it was a great game.

“I have a lot of respect for Rhys and his family.”

It was an event where most of the seeds fell like flies, with defending champion Ben Westgate and four-time Walker Cup player Nigel Edwards both going out early.

European Amateur Team Championships players Joe Vickery, Oliver Farr and Adam Runcie all started well but gradually fell by the wayside. It left number four seed Enoch as the only current European Team Championships squad member in the closing stages.

Enoch beat Gareth Blease of Birhill in one semi-final, while Thomas beat Tim Iveson of Builth Wells in the other.

It left Thomas a little bit like Stewart Cink beating Tom Watson in the Open Championship play-off, the neutral observer would have loved the romantic result of seeing Enoch triumph to provide some consolation in a summer hit by tragedy.

He admitted it may have been too much pressure. “I knew I was favourite going into it, but I guess I was just trying too hard for obvious reasons,” he said.

“I did not play anywhere near as well as I did in my first four matches when I was around four or five under in every match, then I was a couple under in the semi-final against Gareth, but today I was not myself.

“I seemed to hit the lip with every putt possible. It was obviously close all the way, I was one up after the morning then he had three birdies in four holes to go two up and that is basically how it stayed until the end.”

East Tennessee student Enoch was desperate to win the event where his brother had come so close last year. “Obviously it is very disappointing,” he admitted.

“It is a lot of pressure. I have just tried to carry on as best I can I guess. It would have been nice to have done it today having caddied for Ben in the final last year.

“I could have done with winning this in terms of the Walker Cup team too, but I have the European individual in France in two weeks, then the Home Internationals in Hillside and the back to America after that.”

Results For Welsh Amateur Championship
WinWalesLuke ThomasWales300
Runner-upWalesRhys EnochWales200
SemifinalsWalesGareth BleaseWales100
SemifinalsWalesTim IvesonWales100
QuarterfinalsWalesNick LofthouseWales50

View full results for Welsh Amateur Championship

ABOUT THE Welsh Amateur

Match play championship, with each match consisting of 18 holes except for the final which will be 36 holes.

View Complete Tournament Information

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