English star holds off compatriot to claim crown
ENGLAND international Toby Tree fired a super closing round of eight-under-par 64 to move into a striking position at the weather-hit Welsh Amateur Strokeplay Championship at Conwy - then denied fellow countryman Jamie Dick to the title in a tense play-off.
Both players tied on 202, 14-under-par, for the 54 holes that were completed after the first round had to be abandoned as a result of heavy rain. However, the Conwy greens staff are to be congratulated for making the course playable despite the difficult conditions.
“It was a tough week, but they kept the course playable,” said 19-year-old Tree from Goodwood in Sussex. “It was the same for everyone and it was just a question of keeping under the umbrella as much as possible.
“They managed to keep the course dry but it was soft for a links course which I didn’t mind. You could pitch it at the flag much more and play it like a parkland course.
“In the last round, I played well and kept making the putts. I wasn’t nervous going into the play-off because it was just a question of carrying on doing what I was doing well - you cannot control the outcome of a playoff so I just tried to control my own game.
“It was a good win for me to start the summer off. I put the event in my schedule as a links course to prepare for the St Andrews Links and British Amateur.”
Tree began the final round five strokes behind Gloucestershire star Dick, who shot 64 in round two, but the Sussex teenager covered the front nine in 31 shots to close the gap to three. Had it not been for his only bogey on the par-4 16th, Tree would have come home in less than 33, his 64 containing nine birdies.
Dick recorded five birdies in his 69 and two bogeys, one coming at the last in an inward 36. They halved the first extra hole but a par at the second was good enough to see Tree to the title.
Two other England internationals gave good accounts of themselves. Michael Saunders (Dartford) was equal third on 207, and Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park) fifth on 209.
The Welsh Amateur Championship has been kind to England’s top amateurs in recent years. Indeed, Tree’s win makes it four English wins in the last five stagings of the event, following victories for Eddie Pepperell in 2010, Darren Wright in 2011, and Craig Hinton in 2012. Seven of the last nine winners of the tournament, meanwhile, have been from the English amateur ranks.