He might have won the 2013 US Open (one of golf’s coveted “majors”) and be the reigning Olympic golf champion, but Justin Rose hasn’t forgotten his roots in the sport.
This year, the 39-year-old globe-trotting star decided to sponsor and give his name to the annual Telegraph Junior Golf Championship, held at Quinta do Lago in November.
“When I won this tournament as a 16-year-old,” he recalled, “it acted as a springboard to me realising my dreams. This is an unofficial major in junior golf and you can see that by the quality of those who have previously won. In front of the TV cameras, this is their chance to put their marker down. People will take notice.”
Inaugurated by The Daily Telegraph in 1985, the championship has become a “signing post for future champions”, including European Tour winner Matt Fitzpatrick (victorious in 2012) and Solheim Cup star Melissa Reid (who won in 2004). Both agree that it was “huge” for their impending careers.
The 2019 event was contested over three days on the North Course of the Algarve resort, featuring 12 players in each category.
On the first day, they were focused on starting the competition strongly and putting themselves in contention for the last 36 holes.
All that changed in the evening, however, when Rose made an unannounced appearance at Quinta do Lago to share his experience and impart valuable advice. He returned to the course the next day to watch the action and provide further first-hand encouragement – causing a few self-confessed nervous moments among those under his friendly scrutiny.
Record Final-Day Performances
Much of the attention in the boys competition was focused on a 17-year-old from Rotherham, Ben Schmidt, the world amateur number eight who had already won the Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy in 2019.
True to form, and expectations, he went in to win the title by a record 15 shots. Schmidt carded 68-69-69 for a 10-under total and went through the final 36 holes with only one bogey – in seriously windy conditions.
Later, he said, “I did feel very much in control and I can’t tell you what this means to me. To win this title at any stage would’ve been a huge honour, but to do so in the year when Justin Rose has first put his name to it and sponsored the championship with his own money makes it extra special.
“It’s been a fantastic year for me, with the Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy already on the mantelpiece and now this as well. It gives me so much confidence going forwards.”
Schmidt said he had decided not to sign up to a US college and would instead play an elite amateur schedule in 2020. “I’m in the top 10 in the world amateur rankings and my immediate aim is to become number one. As soon as I do that, I will look to the next stage.”
The girls’ competition was much closer. On the 16th green, Mimi Rhodes was level with her playing partners, Darcey Harry and Carmen Griffiths, but then the Somerset 17-year-old reeled off a spectacular birdie-birdie-eagle finish, something that had never been achieved before in the tournament, for a four-stroke victory (75-77-71).
“Grandma is suffering from cancer and has been through a bad time, but she was so proud of Patience (her sister, also competing in the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship) and I qualifying for these finals. I wanted so much to do it for her and when I finished and hugged my sister I knew I would cry. Grandma said she knew I would win, but even she was surprised That I closed my round like that.”
A senior England international, Rhodes said she was committed to going to Wake Forest, the North Carolina University where Arnold Palmer also studied on a golf scholarship, from next year. After that, she been tipped by many following her career to be a success in the professional ranks.
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