Meltham golfer Jamie Bower won the Brabazon Trophy by a stroke in a thrilling final round at London Golf Club.
The 23-year-old England player shot two-under par 70 to finish on 12-under, pipping long-time leader Cameron Davis, whose title challenge fizzled out with a three putt on the final hole.
The final round of the English Men’s Open Strokeplay Championship had everything: brilliant shots, missed opportunities, upsets, nailbiting tension – and a dramatic suspension of play when the leaders, locked at 12-under par, were both on the 18th green and waiting to putt.
A violent thunderstorm forced the last group off the course and when they returned Bower two-putted for par and victory, while Australia’s Cameron Davis missed a short one which would have taken the title battle into a play-off.
Ryan Lumsden (Royal Wimbledon), meanwhile, parred the hole to claim third place on 10-under and to win the Henriques Salver for the best score by a player aged under 20. Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall at Batley) was also a trophy winner, capturing the Scrutton Jug for the best combined score in the Berkshire and Brabazon Trophies.
Bower’s victory was watched by his grandparents, Tony and Jean, and his girlfriend Olivia Stephenson.
And afterwards he described it as: “The biggest win of my life by an absolute mile. It means everything, I can’t express it, I’m just delighted.
“But I feel really bad for Cameron, he played really well and it was awful for that to happen on the 18th. No-one wants to see that and you would rather win it by holing a putt.”
Davis had led the championship for the first three rounds and was two ahead going into the final round. But after two holes, Bower had closed the gap and, when he holed a 20-footer on the fourth he went ahead.
He immediately dropped back with the first of his upsets, when his second to the long fifth went in the water guarding the green and he walked off with a double bogey to Davis’s birdie.
Passing the lead to and fro was a feature of the round. Bower edged ahead on the short 11th with a superb tee shot which finished 2ft from the pin; Davis caught him with a birdie on 12 and they stayed tied until the 16th – and another upset for Bower.
His tee shot flew right into deep rough and, although he was able to play out, he bogeyed the hole and slipped a shot behind with two to play.
Undaunted he produced his shot of the round, firing the ball to within two feet of the pin on the short 17th for his sixth birdie of the day.
The rivals were back on level terms and it was on to the 18th for the finale, which brought Bower his title.
The win marks a triumphant return to top form for Bower, who claimed two victories in an early-season tour of South Africa.
For the last couple of months he’s felt his performance was “very average” but has worked successfully with his swing coach, Alan Thompson of Heswall.
“He has been absolutely instrumental,” said Bower.
It also continues a superb run by England internationals, following Alfie Plant’s win in the Lytham Trophy and Scott Gregory’s victory in the Amateur Championship.
The next challenge is the European Team Championship in France in early July and Bower said: “We’ve got a great team and I really want to do my best for the country in that.”
Other prize-winners in the Brabazon Trophy were: Gian-Marco Petrozzi (Trentham) who shot seven-under 65 – the low round of the championship – to move into fourth place on nine-under; Jamie Li (Bath) on eight-under; and Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall) on seven under.