JACK Cope revealed a deep sense of pride at adding his name to an illustrious list of winners at the English Men’s Amateur Championship.
The Gloucestershire golfer’s name now sits on the imposing trophy alongside Masters champion Danny Willett, Ryder Cup winners Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Nick Faldo, David Gilford and Mark James.
Cope lifted the famous trophy after a 4&3 victory over Lancashire’s Callan Barrow in a 36-hole final that produced some outstanding moments of golf in the Lincolnshire sunshine.
Cope showed skill and nerve to fend off his friend and rival around the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa Golf Club, the home of England Golf.
The Bristolian was five-up at lunch, shooting seven-under without a blemish on his card.
Barrow – a member at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s Golf Club – can consider himself with a mountain to climb despite shooting two-under over the first 18 holes.
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.
Former England junior international Cope, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Friday, was clearly emotional at the end of six days of competition.
In the strokeplay qualifying, only fellow Gloucestershire team-mate Joe Long headed Cope with a nine-under total three better than Cope over 36 holes.
And in the matchplay, Cope was superb and deserved to end the week as champion to succeed last year’s teenage sensation Conor Gough, from Stoke Park.
‘Thrilled to be named champion’
COPE could not quite believe what he had just achieved after being handed the trophy at Lincolnshire’s “Home of England Golf.”
“I’m absolutely thrilled to hear it,” admitted Cope after being announced as the winner, two years after he finished third in the Brabazon Trophy at Frilford Heath.
“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.”
The significance of joining the likes of Sir Nick Faldo, Fleetwood, Willett, Casey – and amateur legends like Gerald Micklem and Sir Michael Bonallack, who claimed the title a record five times – had 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,” Jack said.
“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 matchplay,” added Cope, who became the youngest-ever Gloucestershire champion in 2017, aged 17.
Cope was quick out of the traps going five-up
BARROW and Cope racked up a total of 10 birdies between them in the morning’s play.
Cope was quick out the traps and was four-up through seven holes 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.
Can Jack be the lad at Brabazon too?
COPE will now look to carry his form into the Brabazon Trophy later this month at Sherwood Forest.
He will head to Nottinghamshire bidding to become just the fourth player to win both major trophies in the same season – and the first since Mark Foster in 1995.
Cope appeared 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.”
•For full scores from the championship click here.