ROYAL & Lytham St Annes golfer Callan Barrow lost out in the final of the English Men’s Amateur Championship after a 4&3 defeat to Gloucestershire’s Jack Cope at Woodhall Spa. Both players produced some outstanding moments of golf in the 36-hole final in Lincolnshire sunshine.
Around the Hotchkin Course, Cope showed skill and nerve to fend off his friend and rival. After 18 holes of morning matchplay, Cope was five up helped by shooting a seven under round of 66 without a blemish on his card.
Barrow can consider himself unlucky to shoot two under par in the morning and find himself with a mountain to climb. However, Cope’s ball-striking and his touch on the greens proved decisive and after racing six holes clear as they turned for home in the afternoon, the Players Club member was finally able to shake off his friend with three holes to spare.
Cope, who celebrated his 21st birthday last Friday, was clearly emotional at the end of six days of competition. Over two rounds of strokeplay, only Joe Long (-9) of the 222 male competitors carded a lower two round total than Cope (-6). And in the matchplay, the former England boys’ international was superb and deserved to end the week as national champion.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to hear it,” admitted Cope after being announced as the winner.
“It’s been a gruelling week, but I’m thankful and proud.
“The morning round was very good. I was seven under and bogey free and this afternoon I kept my wits about me as Cal is an exceptional golfer and he made it a very good game.”
Cope now joins the likes of Sir Nick Faldo, Tommy Fleetwood, Danny Willett and Paul Casey as a winner of the title and the significance of the success has yet to sink in.
“It feels fantastic – I’m very honoured to be alongside the names on the trophy,” added Cope who had a spell away from the game recently after breaking his arm.
“The last two years have been exceptionally tough on and off the golf course and I have to thank my parents, coach Russell Covey and Gloucestershire County Union and I hope this a big leap in the right direction.
“I always knew I had ability, but it’s about producing it when it counts. “I played the West of England fourball at the weekend before this and was asked about my form. I said a big win was close the way I was playing. I finished second in the stroke and won the match play.”
In the morning, Barrow and Cope racked up a total of 10 birdies between them. Cope was quick out the traps and was four up through seven holes of the morning round thanks to birdies at the third, fifth, sixth and seventh. Barrow had barely put a foot wrong, but the quality on show from his 21-year-old opponent was impressive. A quality iron into the par three, eighth hole allowed Barrow to roll home a birdie putt from 15 foot and he followed that up with two more on the ninth and 10th holes to peg back Cope’s lead to just one.
But Cope won both the 13th and 14th to restore his grip on the match and he never let it go. Barrow’s 10-footer down the slope at 18 grazed the hole, while Cope knocked his in from eight feet to take a five hole lead into lunch. Yet the Lancashire man refused to give up. He birdied the first hole of the afternoon to get one back, but then lost the next. A birdie two at the fifth offered hope again, but Barrow couldn’t quite reel in his man. Even though he found himself six down with nine to play in the afternoon Barrow’s fighter’s instinct took over.
A birdie at 10 and then another 14 kept the match alive. But a par four on the 15th sealed with a tricky six-foot putt down the slope clinched the title for Cope. Cope will now look to carry his form into the Brabazon Trophy later this month at Sherwood Forest after appearing to play all this week without nerves.
“I’m glad it looked like that, but it didn’t feel like that,” he said with a smile.
“My attitude was the main thing.
“I just kept plugging away and tried to keep hitting good golf shots.
“Cal’s a great guy and a great golfer. That’s the way it goes. I just played exceptionally well.”