SHEPHERD WINS AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER RECORD-BREAKING COMEBACK
Sussex amateur Laird Shepherd produced one of the greatest comebacks of all time in matchplay history, winning the 126th amateur championship amid emotional scenes at Nairn Golf Club in Scotland.
In an all-English 36-hole final against Monty Scowsill from Suffolk, the 23-year-old fought his way back after playing 17 holes out of eight and four out of four to triumph on the 38th hole in an extraordinary match.
After recently struggling with knee and back injuries, Shepherd, who is a member of Rye Golf Club in East Sussex, burst into tears at the tremendous achievement of the former R&A Foundation fellow. On his fourth appearance on The Amateur, the former University of Stirling student was hugged warmly by girlfriend, Scottish amateur player Chloe Goadby, and boyfriend and caddy Andrew Davidson.
Shepherd, who is a member of Rye Golf Club in East Sussex, can now look forward to next month's 149th Royal St George & # 39; s Open, US Open 2022 and Masters tournament next year. He is also invited to an event on the European Tour.
The 36-hole final was the ultimate two-half final, with Scowsill, 25, using a hat-trick of birdies from June 5th – to take the early initiative.
Shepherd, who now lives in St. Andrews after graduating from Stirling University, missed a chance in 8th place and found himself four behind after nine holes. Scowsill quickly made another birdie to extend his lead as he played the first 10 holes at 4 under par. Shepherd saw another chance to slip past the short 11th place from two meters before leaving the 14th six holes behind with three putti.
Scowsill, who is a member of Woodbridge Golf Club, then drove 303 yards 15th to set up a winning birdie. Shepherd then also made 17th with three putti to leave eight behind, but took his first hole of the match after Scowsill's tee shot went out on the 18th.
Shepherd needed a quick afternoon rest in Nairn and secured his first birdie of the competition on the 23rd to bring the match back to six. More birdies followed on the 26th and 27th to reduce the gap to four, but a bogey on the 29th resulted in Scowsill taking fifth place with only seven holes remaining.
Shepherd's par was good enough to take one back on the 30th, but he soon had to win the last four holes to keep the game alive. Incredibly, he did so in dramatic scenes, aided by superb birdies on 33rd and 35th places. At par-5 36, Scowsill hit a tree with his drive and then gained fame. And it was all over on the 38th when Scowsill made three putts for bogey and Shepherd's breathtaking comeback was.
"It's an amazing, amazing feeling," Shpeherd said. “To come back from eight through 17 holes, I mean, I was honestly more concerned about ending up with an embarrassing record loss. Monty played so well in the morning, so composed, and I didn't really have my game. Turning it around was amazing. The tears are probably for the tough times I've had over the years. As an athlete, it's never nice when you have the feeling of running backwards like I was. "
“Looking back, it was so important to win 18th place in the morning round. I just managed to get into the groove a bit in the afternoon after winning a few holes. Can't describe how I felt on the last four holes but I was in a quiet place. In the morning I was everywhere and I was more worried about getting sick on live TV.
“I feel with Monty that he's a buddy of mine. He played so well, pocketed a lot of great putts. He didn't give it away, really not. He punched big putts on the 34th and 35th for me to punch mine. Then it's a hard tee on the 36th and something like that can happen. "
When asked about his thoughts on participating in three of the next four major championships, including next month's Open, Shepherd added, “It's going to be very special. Whatever happens in the events I'm going to play now, nobody can take that experience away from me. I'm really looking forward to testing my game against the best players in the world. I've played a couple of South East Links Championships at Royal St George’s and I've always enjoyed the course. It is closest to my home address in Sussex in terms of open locations. I was there as a child and watched the Opens. "
Scowsill was visibly shaken by the defeat, but full of praise for his rival. "It's really hard to take," he said. “I was really in charge the whole time. I did badly and Laird did very well, to be fair to him. This is golf. I wouldn't have done anything differently. I just didn't get the shots when I needed it on the second nine. It happens. It was my morning, it was his afternoon. On the 36th hole I tried to hit it on the left and I just hit it a bit full and it hit the tree. It's still been a good week and congratulations to Laird. "