Joe Long (R&A)
With 36 holes separating them from glory, two longtime friends settled the 125th Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale.
“It was quite relaxing having one of my good mates out there with me,” Joe Harvey told the R&A. “But we were both out there to win so between shots we would have a little bit of a chat, but coming up to our shots we were in the zone.”
First to take a lead, Joe Long broke the stagnant match between his close friend, Harvey, with a birdie on the par-4 5th. Splitting the 6th with birdies, Harvey squared the match back with a par on the par-3 7th. Ending the three-hole volley, Long regained a slim lead via concession on the 8th.
Nabbing wins on the 10th and 11th, Long saw his lead swell to 3 up. Maintaining the lead until he conceded the par-5 15th and lost the par-4 16th, he managed to gain back a 2 up lead via a birdie on the 17th, taking the lead into the halfway point of the match.
In the afternoon 18, the duo split see-sawed four of the first five holes (Nos. 19-23) with pars taking the wins on holes 19, 21, and 23 as Long saw his lead trimmed to just 1 up. Firing back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, Long regained a 3 up lead through 25 holes.
Harvey, attempting to stop the bleeding, grabbed a par win on the 27th (No. 9), stubbing Long’s momentum for the time being as the group made the turn in the home nine.
Unable to curb Long’s tenacity, Harvey dropped the 28th and 29th holes to fall to the largest deficit he saw so far; 4 down. On the 14th tee (No. 32) it seemed as though Harvey had a small window of opportunity to cut Long’s lead and extend the match.
With the reality of the match creeping in, Long had to buckle down and settle his nerves.
“Walking up to the tee on 14 (the 32nd hole) my heart was racing,” Long said. “But I got over my tee shot and stuck to the process, thinking about where I wanted to hit it on the green. I hit a really solid shot and then over the putt, I was looking at the line and almost forgot about what comes with it if I hole it and Joe [Harvey] misses. It literally just missed.”
Not quite executing to his abilities, Long left himself a mile to get into tap-in range. With roughly 40-feet separating him from the hole, Long was able to split the par-3 with Harvey to make the match dormie heading into the 33rd hole (No. 15).
Obviously needing to make something happen, Harvey was able to get on in two and had a look at eagle to win the hole and extend the match to the 16th (No. 34). Missing the eagle putt by inches, Long was able to see the line to match Harvey’s birdie and secure the championship.
“Goosebumps really,” Long said as he recalled the putt. “As soon as I holed it, it all hit me. I am just so pleased and can’t believe it really. It’s all so surreal.”
Of course, with every victory, comes a loss on the other side.
“I was so happy for Joe when he holed that putt,” Harvey said. “But as a golfer, I was gutted that my chance to win had come to an end. I am so tired after a long week, so my emotions are a bit all over the place.”
Disappointed with the result, Harvey still has yet to hang his head about his performance saying that “If you had said at the beginning of the week that I would be in the final, I don’t think I would have believed you. I am really chuffed with the way it all played out this week.”
As for Long, aside from being named the 125th Amateur Champion, maybe the most exciting thing that awaits him is a spot in the 149th Open Championship.
“It’s going to be incredible,” exclaimed Long. “This is what I have worked hard for since I started playing golf. I really stuck in there and battled… I am going to enjoy the experience of playing in The Open. It’s just going to be huge.”
ABOUT THE British Amateur
This championship, along with the US Amateur
Championship, is considered the most
The first stage of the Championship involves
288 players each of whom plays two rounds of
18 holes, one to be played on each of the two
courses. The 64 lowest scores over the 36
holes and ties for 64th place will compete in
the match play stage of the Championship.
Each match will consist of one round of 18
holes except the Final which will be over 36
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