SURREY’S Rupert Kellock held his nerve and holed the crucial putts to march to victory in the English Senior Amateur Championship.
As befitted a former Army officer, Kellock played with military precision on the back nine to earn a deserved three-shot victory.
He denied defending champion Ian Attoe the chance to complete a hat-trick in the process.
And Kellock held off a challenge from fellow England senior international Trevor Foster and Maxstoke Park’s Stephen Creed.
The ex-Royal Green Jacket began the final round a shot adrift of three-time winner Attoe – who was going for three in a row – and Sussex’s Andrew Smith, from Royal Ashdown Forest.
However, a one-over par round of 74 around a baked and windswept Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa Golf Club, in Lincolnshire, allowed Kellock to achieve his career highlight.
His finishing total was two-over par after previous rounds of 70 on the Hotchkin and a 76 on the Bracken Course at England Golf’s headquarters.
Kellock – a member at Sunningdale Golf Club – won with a flourish. Birdies at 12, 16 and 18 allowed him to add his own national title to the Welsh crown he won in 2018.
After the victory, Kellock admitted: “It’s terribly pleasing and I’m dead chuffed as they would say.
“It’s always great to win anything and to win the national title is fantastic.
“It’s the largest national title I’ve won and to have beaten Ian Attoe, who has dominated this event for five years makes me very proud.
“I hit the ball a lot better than I scored and was quite comfortable as I was hitting the ball so well. The problem was I wasn’t quite sure what the other scores were.
“Anyway, you play one shot at a time and get on with it and the fact was I was hitting the ball really well makes life so much easier – middle of the fairway, middle of the green, two putts and walk on.”
Pars like birdies on tricky Hotchkin
ON a day when the wind dominated proceedings and made the front nine particularly treacherous for the leading players, pars were treated like birdies.
Kellock started with three pars, but four dropped shots between the fourth and the 10th holes were a setback.
The nerves were steadied however, with a brilliant iron into the short 12th hole. The ball danced around the hole and finished a foot from the cup.
After that tap-in birdie, Kellock found himself tied for the lead with Accrington’s Foster who had started the day three shots behind the leaders.
Foster had dropped only one shot to par at the turn and a birdie at 13 actually put him a shot clear of Kellock again.
But then came Kellock’s nerveless finish capped by a six-foot putt on 18 which caught the right lip of the hole and tumbled for a closing birdie.
The 61-year-old had been struggling with the putter all week and he couldn’t find the touch on the greens when he needed it most.
Iron play was key for Sunningdale’s Kellock
KELLOCK’S closing stretch of holes left him thrilled and in particular the iron play which left him with excellent opportunities for birdies when others were simply grateful for par.
On making birdie at two of the final three holes, Kellock said: “It’s very satisfying as I’d three putted from 20 feet on 14 for a par which was disappointing.
“On the 16th, I hit it to 18 inches and on the 18th I had a two-putt birdie. It was a very, very nice way to finish.
“It sounds very good to be introduced as a champion and I’d like to be English national champion again next year as well.”
Attoe took the prize as the leading player in the 60-64 age group while Kent’s John Wright, from Wildernesse GC, finished first in the over 65s with a 12-over total, having started with an excellent 70, before adding scores of 86 and 74.
Next year’s championship will be held at Blackmoor Golf Club and the Army Golf Club in Hampshire.
•For scores at the English Senior click here.