Daniel O'Laughlin (center) (Walton Heath GC/Twitter photo)
By Gordon Simpson
Daniel O’Loughlin from Nottingham turned a seven-shot deficit after 54 holes into a three-stroke victory to lift the impressive Michael Lunt Salver as the winner of the 15th edition of the Walton Heath Trophy.
The 21-year-old American collegiate player, who attends the University of Colorado, began the final round in furnace-like conditions trailing leader Jacob Davies from Rhuddlan in Wales.
However, as the mercury climbed, O’Loughlin embarked on a grueling final-round comeback. In the baking heat, the Ruddington Grange player refused to wilt, staying cool and calm before ultimately collecting the spoils with a closing round of 70 over the Old Course.
His four-round aggregate of 279, nine under par, secured victory by three shots from Frilford Heath’s Olly Huggins with Jordan Sundborg of Shanklin & Sandown in third.
As the U.K. was gripped by a heat wave which made playing conditions unpleasantly hot, O’Loughlin ground out his closing 70 to display a strong temperament on a testing day.
“I didn’t have any huge expectations going into the last round,” he admitted. “I tried not to think about anyone else. It was a case of ignoring the heat and the other golfers and just posting a number. I didn’t know it would end up being good enough to win.”
O’Loughlin’s chances of claiming the trophy seemed slim when he turned in one over par, but three consecutive birdies from the 14th, including a fine 15-footer at the 15th, paved the way for his winning total.
With mum, Caroline, lending moral support over the full 72-hole tournament, O’Loughlin did the family proud by taking a title he describes as "the biggest of my career so far.”
O’Loughlin, who aims to graduate in geography from the University of Colorado next year before deciding whether to enter the professional arena, added: “I played here in the European Amateur two years ago and finished tenth, so I had a really good feel for Walton Heath. It’s obviously been borne out this week. It’s a great venue and I love the golf courses.”
Runner-up Huggins surged through the field with a third round 65 and closed with a 73 for a six under par total of 282. In just coming up short, the 20-year-old wasn’t quite able to complete a terrific ‘double’ for his club, Frilford Heath.
Last October, Eddie Pepperell from the same club captured the British Masters on the European Tour, and for a few hours today Huggins looked as if he might land the trophy until O’Loughlin’s late charge.
Huggins laughed: “I should be attending a wedding in Chepstow right now, but it looks as if I will be late. My girlfriend won’t be too pleased!”
However, the long wait was futile as O’Loughlin finished strongly to fend off Huggins and Sundborg, who carded a final 70 for a total of 283.
ABOUT THE Walton Heath Trophy
The Walton Heath Trophy each year attracts a top-
field of amateur
golfers from across the world. The 72 hole
stroke play event
takes place over both the Old and New
at the famed Walton Heath Golf Club in
and consists of four
rounds of golf with a cut after 36 holes.
The tournament changed its name from South of
England Open Amateur to the current name in
November of 2017.
View Complete Tournament Information