ENGLAND international Callum Shinkwin overcame a delayed arrival in Colombia, a five-month layoff, a penalty stroke and the recent loss of his grandfather to win the South American Amateur Championship in Bogota, writes Dave Hamilton.
A closing round of 78, including that penalty, saw the Moor Park, Hertfordshire, player finish on 293, five-over-par, for a one-stroke victory over Erik Myllymäki of Finland.
“This win was unexpected,” he said. “I never thought I’d do well because I couldn’t get to grips with the course on the first day and only found the pace on the second. I couldn’t struggled with the altitude there. We were 10,000 feet above sea level so the ball flies much further. And, because of our delayed arrival, we only had one practice round.”
After an opening 75, which left him three strokes off the pace, Shinkwin produced his best golf over the next 36 holes. A second round two-under-par 70 saw him two shots clear of the field, which he reproduced in round three to go into the final round with a healthy six-stroke lead.
He was clearly the man to beat but he found the closing day far from easy. His final round 78, his worst of the week, contained only one birdie, five bogeys and a double bogey.
Most of the dropped shots came from the tenth to 13th holes and culminated in the penalty incurred on 13 when he breached a rule of the competition by practising a putt. But a par on the 14th plus the lone birdie on 17 got him back on track and he held on to take the title.
“For me it is a very exciting victory,” he said. “I lost my grandfather just before we left while this was my first tournament of the year after five months out. On the first day, I hit 14 fairways and finished three-over. I made only six in round two and finished two-under. It was a constant struggle but exciting,” said Shinkwin, who has his sights set on Walker Cup selection this year.
Myllymäki, finished with a third consecutive 73 for the runner-up spot on 294, two better than Peruvian Joaquin Lolas, who returned one of the two best scores of the final day of 71. England’s Jordan Smith, who was on the leaderboard for most of the week, finished equal seventh on 301 after a closing 79.