Joe Long savored success at Royal Birkdale to win the 125th Amateur Championship.
The 23-year-old Englishman showed composure over the renowned links in Southport to defeat countryman and good friend Joe Harvey, 4 and 3, in the 36-hole final.
“That sounds amazing, 125th Amateur Champion has quite a nice ring to it,” Long said. “I was feeling nervous, we both were. My game plan was just to try and stick in the present as much as I could, forget about all the rewards and benefits that come with winning.
“It’s really good and hard at the same time because we both wanted to do well. He (Harvey) is a really good mate and when I win it is hard to see him lose. But it is all part of the sport we play and the match was played in great spirit, we enjoyed it out there.”
Lansdown Golf Club member Long was the first to make a move, carding a birdie 3 at the fifth hole to take the early advantage before quickly giving it up with a bogey 4 at the seventh. Long regained the lead at No. 8 and he extended it to 3-up by the 11th hole.
Losing his tee shot at the par-5 15th, Long conceded the hole to his opponent. When Harvey also won the 16th, he closed to within one. Long quickly answered with a birdie at the 17th to go ahead, 2 up, and he took that lead to the clubhouse for the lunch break.
The final match was played in glorious weather, a far cry from Tuesday’s stormy conditions that saw the first round of stroke-play qualifying abandoned.
While Harvey recorded wins at the 19th, 23rd and 27th holes, he was unable to peg back his friend’s lead. Long became the first Englishman since Harry Ellis in 2017 to win the Amateur Championship.
By virtue of his triumph, Long gained exemptions into The 149th Open at Royal St George’s next year, and by tradition, an invitation to play in the 2021 Masters Tournament and an exemption into the 2021 U.S. Open.
Germany’s Aline Krauter claimed the biggest title of her career after winning the Women’s Amateur Championship at West Lancashire.
The 20-year-old Stanford University student fought back from being 3 down after the opening four holes to defeat England’s Annabell Fuller, 1 up, in the 18-hole final. It continued a trend of success for German golf after Sophia Popov’s AIG Women’s Open triumph last weekend at Royal Troon.
On linksland along the River Mersey, Krauter – ranked 71st on the WAGR – emerged victorious from an international field of almost 100 players at the renowned venue near Liverpool.
Krauter can now look forward to exemptions into the 2021 AIG Women’s Open and, traditionally, next year’s U.S. Women’s Open, Evian Championship and Augusta National Women's Amateur.
“It’s my biggest win, 100 percent,” Krauter said. “I won the German Girls in 2016 and then I’ve played decently in some college tournaments in the U.S. but not been close in one.
“I’m now so excited to play in the AIG Women’s Open, I’m honoured. I watched Sophia (Popov) win last week, it was amazing. I had a club fitting with her in February before COVID-19 when everything was fine. To play in the event next year at Carnoustie will be amazing.”
Stuttgart-born Krauter looked in early trouble when Fuller, who won the English Women’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship last week, claimed successes at the first, second and fourth holes. But Krauter refused to give in and went on an incredible run, winning six holes out of eight from the fifth (including a near ace at the sixth) to go 3 up after 12 and completely turn the contest around.
Fuller, ranked No. 41 on the WAGR, produced her own fightback, winning the par-5 16th with a birdie after a fine approach and then the short 17th after Krauter had bunker problems. But the German made a safe par-4 down the last, with Fuller unable to make birdie.