MILTON KEYNES, England (July 30, 2011) -- Steven Brown is the English Amateur champion. He won the title, supported by abacus, by beating Jamie Clare 7 and 5 in the 36-hole final at a sun-drenched Woburn.
His victory ended a long wait for a major victory and he joins a long line of former champions such as Michael Bonallack, Nick Faldo and Mark James.
“I’m hugely thrilled to win this title,” he said modestly. “I’ve been close a lot of times over the past few years so it’s good to have finally won something significant.”
The 24 year old from Surrey had one hand on the trophy at lunch after ending the morning round over the Marquess Course with an eight-hole lead.
At that stage many people were asking if he might beat the highest winning margin of 12 and 11 set by Bonallack in beating David Kelley at Ganton in 1968.
“I wasn’t thinking of anything like that. It didn’t enter my head,” added Brown. “I just wanted to keep playing the same way and let the score take care of itself.”
In fact, Clare won the afternoon session and he deserves credit for making a fight of it although he was had too big a mountain to climb.Brown dominated the morning. He won the first two holes and was 6-up at the turn after covering the front nine in three-under-par 33.
Nerves obviously played a part in Clare’s fortunes. Just turned 17, he found himself on the biggest stage he has yet trod and his play over that early stage was erratic to say the least.
Brown dropped only one shot in the morning when he took two to exit a greenside bunker on the short 14th.
But although he started the afternoon 8-up, Brown decided it was a new game and planned in exactly the same way as he started, to hit every fairway and green and to hole putts.It didn’t quite work that way but he was never in danger and admitted: “I was so tired after lunch. My legs were dead and I wasn’t quite on my game.”
Even so, he stayed 8-up until the 25th which Clare birdied while he cut the deficit to 6 with a birdie-three at the ninth, going out in 34 to Brown’s 36.
However, the Someset teenager three-putted the tenth but birdied the long 29th then matched Brown’s birdie at 30 to stay at 6-down.
The end came at the par four next where Clare missed the green right and faced a devilish chip only for the ball to roll down the slope and stop further away than he started.
He bravely tried to repair the damage but when Brown rolled his birdie putt close for a certain par, Clare offered his congratulations.
“I was pleased to win the afternoon battle but I couldn’t hit the ball on the front nine this morning,” said Clare. “But I kept at it and I didn’t lose my head.
“Steven hardly missed a fairway, a green or a putt but this has been a great week for me and hopefully it will open a few doors.”
We shall hear more of Clare while his victory will boost Brown’s chances of Walker Cup selection. He is aiming to turn professional later in the year and hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of the past English champions.
“It’s great to be on the same list as the previous winners and if I can achieve a tiny bit that they’ve accomplished I’ll be delighted.
“At the start of the week I wasn’t expecting to win but I felt I had a good chance. You can’t get ahead of yourself but I’m delighted how it’s turned out.”