Qualifiers from all over the UK & Ireland gathered at Gainsborough Golf Club - home to tournament sponsor PING - for the 2018 American Golf Junior Championship final last week.
With the competition fierce and the sportsmanship on show admirable, defending champion Aaron Mohun from Chester took the overall title with Amy Buchan from Newcastle Upon Tyne, Leah Ribano (pictured above) from Northampton, Fraser Russell from Troon, Ruaridh Clubb from Gifford, Hayden Sarfo from Droitwich and Owen Williams from Penarth, taking the honours in their respective categories.
Back to defend his 2017 title, 11 year old Aaron Mohun, pictured above, from Chester didn’t miss a beat as he took the overall American Golf Junior Championship title scoring 46 stableford points to top the overall leader board as well as the Boys Handicap category. Aaron, who was taking part in his third final, reflected on the experience of defending his title after picking up the trophy in front of Sky Sports’ cameras.
“It feels a lot better than last year because there was quite a bit of expectation," said Aaron. "Everyone was saying before I came to the tournament, ‘you’re going to do great’ and that’s a lot of pressure. But it worked! I played really well. My putting was better than it’s ever been and putts win prizes!”
Winner in the Girls Nett competition was Close House member Amy Buchan, pictured above, from Newcastle Upon Tyne. She played a fantastic round to record 39 points off a handicap of 11, narrowly edging out Jessica Brown from the Shire London who amassed 38 points in what was an incredibly tight category.
Round of the day went to Leah Ribano, pictured above, as she took the title in the Girls’ Gross competition. 14 year old Leah from Northampton went round in an incredible 3 over par, playing off 6.
After taking in the magnitude of her achievement she said: "I feel amazing, I’ve come the past 2 years now and not done too well but I’ve come back this year and won the trophy! I did miss a couple of putts but I did play well. This is quite a fun competition with all the little kids. It’s a bit more laid back but you do have to hit high standards to win."
The winner in the Boys Gross competition was Fraser Russell, pictured above, from Troon. Fraser played a very good round of 8 over, beating several boys with lower handicaps than his 7. Having taken the title by one shot, the birdies he hit on 15 and 17 were all important on reflection.
One aspect of the American Golf Championship that distinguishes it from most is the platform it gives to very young golfers and high handicap golfers. 2018 saw an incredible standard of golf across the Future Star categories which are played without handicap over a 9 hole shortened course.
Taking the under 8 title after finishing second in 2017 was Hayden Sarfo, pictured above. Hayden played an incredible round to complete his 9 holes in 5 under par. Hot on his heels in the 9 and over category was Owen Williams from Penarth who played fantastic golf to come in at 3 under.
In the final category, Ruaridh Clubb from Gifford Golf Club came out on top in the Upper Nett competition, the high handicap category that was new for 2018. He recorded 35 points from off 34 to take the title.
After seeing the championship draw to a close, Matt Bacon, Head of Events at American Golf said: ”This year’s championship has been an amazing event and the golf on display has been of the highest quality. It’s so satisfying to see new faces alongside young golfers who have returned to qualifiers year after year. For American Golf and PING to have been such an important part in the progression of so many young golfers makes me incredibly proud. To make it through to the final from hundreds of entrants from all over the U.K. & Ireland is a fantastic achievement and every one of the participants today has been a credit to themselves, their golf club and their family.”
John Clark, Managing Director of tournament sponsor PING Europe, said: “It’s always a highlight of the year to welcome the finalists of the American Golf Junior Championship to our home at Gainsborough Golf Club and this year has provided us with the best Championship golfing quality we’ve seen to date. Both PING and American Golf have a long-standing commitment to developing the next generation of golfers and, having seen the quality of play and the high class sportsmanship on display today, I think the game of golf has a strong future.”
With some incredible golf played from youngsters off all abilities, the final word goes to two-time Champion Aaron Mohun who summed up the spirit of the American Golf Junior Championship when he said: “The American Golf competitions are really good because they get everyone together, not just the one or two who always turn up for everything. You get loads of different people of all different abilities playing the same tournament. I’ve made 2 or 3 really good new friends here on the course.”
The Junior Championship, which will be shown on Sky Sports in October, is a vital part of American Golf’s drive to get more people out playing golf more often. In its fourth year, the Championship goes from strength to strength and with the quality of golf and personality on show through this year’s qualifiers and final, golf with American Golf has a very bright future.