England’s Scott Gregory triumphed over Scots teen Robert MacIntyre to win the biggest amateur title this side of the Atlantic and a spot at Augusta National
By Craig Dennett
Hampshire golfer Scott Gregory has punched his ticket to the 2017 Masters after triumphing in the final of the Amateur Championship.
With his win, Gregory, who defeated Scotland international Robert MacIntyre 2&1 in the final, guaranteed spots in the Open Championship at Royal Troon, as well as next year’s US Open at Erin Hills and, by tradition, an invitation to compete at Augusta National in April.
“Obviously it’s a dream come true,” said the 21-year-old from Corhampton. “You dream about moments like this when you’re practising all those hours and you’re not playing as well as you’d like.
“It’s going to be completely new to me, so hopefully I can get some decent practice in with some people and see where I go from there.”
An England A international, Gregory had started the event in great form, finishing the strokeplay stages over the links at Royal Porthcawl and Pyle &Kenfig in a tie for 13th place with a 36-hole score of one-over-par, alongside fellow Englishmen Daniel Brown, William Enefer and Jamie Bower.
After receiving a bye into the second round of the matchplay stages, each of Gregory’s first two contests reached the 18th hole. He defeated South Africa’s Andre Nel by two holes, and followed it up with a one-hole victory over Pierre Mazier.
From there, Gregory blazed a trail through the field. A comprehensive 4&3 win over West Cornwall’s Harry Hall was followed with a 5&4 triumph over Spain’s Javier Sainz to reach the semi-final. There he defeated Poland’s Adrian Meronk 3&2 to set up the showdown with MacIntyre.
Gregory quickly moved 3UP in the early stages of the final and looked comfortable until 2015 Scottish Amateur champion MacIntyre won the 15th and holed a 30-foot putt on the 16th to reduce the deficit to one hole. Opportunities presented themselves at each of the next two holes but MacIntyre was unable to make the most of them and Gregory maintained his one hole advantage heading into the afternoon round.
The Scot seized the momentum in the early stages of the second round, and moved ahead for the first time after winning the 20th and 21st holes with pars. The pair traded holes over the next six holes, but by the time the match reached the 31st hole, Gregory was back in the lead. By the end of it, he was 2UP with five holes to play. When the 35th was halved in four, Gregory was celebrating the most important victory of his career to date.
“I think luck went my way a little bit, that definitely helped,” said the Hampshire man. “I got a couple of lies where I shouldn’t have had lies but I made the most out of the opportunities that I had.
“I kept telling myself if I got chances I’ve got to take them. I knew that putt on 17 was the moment I needed to make it so it was nice to do it.”
MacIntyre, meanwhile, was gracious in defeat and said: “I’m gutted overall but it was a good match. It was a close one all the way to the 17th. But fair play to Scott, he hung in there and ended up walking away with the trophy.
“I thought he struck it brilliantly in the first 12 holes. His short game was just unbelievable. Mine wasn’t quite as sharp as his but we’ll take positives from it.”