England international Jimmy Mullen was the runaway winner of the Welsh Open Strokeplay Championship at Ashburnham - and, after getting his hands on the trophy, he immediately targeted a place in this year’s GB&I Walker Cup team.
Royal North Devon man Mullen led from wire-to-wire, ultimately finishing nine shots clear of his closest rivals on 15-under-par. He admitted that he hoped his stunning success had caught the eye of the selectors for September’s clash with the USA at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
“This is my biggest win to date, which means a lot, and being in Walker Cup year it’s even better,” said the 21-year-old. “I just stuck to what I had been doing in the first three rounds, kept trying to make birdies and hoped it would be good enough in the end.”
“It’s the first time I have led from start to finish and it’s very nice to know I can do that. It’s also good to get back that winning feeling.”
Mullen set the early tournament pace with a pair of five-under 67s, which saw him, first, share the lead after the first round, then hold a one-stroke advantage at the halfway stage.
A third round 70 saw him charge four shots ahead of the chasing pack, before a closing round of 69 sealed the deal.
He added: “I knew I had a four-shot lead going into the final round but the course record had already been broken twice in the week and I expected people to come at me. But it didn’t happen.
“Off the tee, I was the best I’ve been all year. I hit a lot of fairways and gave myself the opportunity to hit at the right part of the greens and leave myself birdie chances.”
The win was the second 72-hole victory of Mullen’s career, following his victory in the 2014 Duncan Putter, also in Wales.
Elsewhere at Ashburnham, his England teammate and double European champion Ashley Chesters, of Hawkstone Park, carded a final round of 68 to finish in a tie for second alongside Wales’ Ben Westgate.
Two more English players, Joe Dean of Lindrick and Huddersfield’s Nick Marsh, finished a further shot adrift in a share of fourth with Ireland’s Alex Gleeson.