Wath man earns first international title in stunning fashion at Frilford Heath
Yorkshireman Nick Poppleton clinched the Brabazon Trophy in dramatic style and, as a result, earned a place in the Great Britain & Ireland squad for the St Andrews Trophy.
The 24-year-old, who plays out of Wath Golf Club near Rotherham, chipped in on the second play-off hole to deny South African Wilco Nienaber at Frilford Heath after his chip shot to keep the championship alive hit the hole and lipped out.
“It means a lot,” said Poppleton, with the Brabazon Trophy marking his first international title. “This is the pinnacle of strokeplay for England Golf and a lot of fantastic players have won this.
“It’s nice to start the season off hot. I’ve had a couple of seasons when I came out really slowly so it’s good to get one early.”
The play-off was an exciting finale to a day of superb golf with low scores, which included a course record nine-under-par 63 from Darlington’s Andrew Wilson that propelled him into contention.
Poppleton was chasing South African No.1 Nienaber for most of the final day after he blitzed round in seven-under-par 65 in the morning to get to 13-under-par through 54 holes – two clear of the Englishman.
He set off like a rocket in the afternoon, too, as he was five-under-par after seven holes, 18-under-par for the tournament and five clear at that stage. However, a bogey at the 11th and double-bogey at the 14th derailed his charge and Poppleton seized his opportunity, driving the green on the par-4 16th and holing a 15ft putt for an eagle two.
“I knew I needed to make something happen on the 16th,” he said. “You need something like that to get you across the line and that was the turning point.”
The Englishman’s week then got even better when he was called up to the GB&I squad for the match against Continental Europe in Finland.
“Nick played exceptional golf to win the Brabazon Trophy and his selection for the Great Britain & Ireland squad is a reflection of his overall form,” said the team’s captain Craig Watson. “His inclusion shows there is still time for players to play their way into contention for the match and we are following the key amateur events closely.”