Leading junior golfers will chase success in this week’s R&A Boys’ and Girls’ Amateur championships being played at Royal Cinque Ports and Fulford.
After the cancellation of both championships last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prestigious titles make a welcome return to the calendar. The Boys’ Amateur is contested from 10-15 August over the Kent links, with the Yorkshire venue hosting the Girls’ Amateur from 10-14 August.
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “We look forward to the return of the Boys’ and Girls’ Amateur championships this week at two wonderful venues in Royal Cinque Ports and Fulford.
“Both championships are among the most prestigious in the world for junior golfers and we are delighted that these talented young players will enjoy the opportunities to showcase their skills in a world-class environment.”
This year marks the centenary of the Boys’ Amateur after the first playing at Royal Ascot in 1921 when Donald Mathieson triumphed. Sir Michael Bonallack (1952), Ronan Rafferty (1979), José María Olazábal (1983), David Howell (1993), Sergio Garcia (1997) and Tom Lewis (2009) are all notable past winners.
The 144-player field this year will seek to follow in the footsteps of the 2019 winner, Tom Gueant of France, who defeated Wilmer Ederö of Sweden on the 37th hole at Saunton.
As well as players from across Great Britain and Ireland, competitors from Austria, Germany, Italy Switzerland and the USA will also tee it up.
At Royal Cinque Ports, which is situated near to last month’s Open Championship venue Royal St George’s, the champion will earn exemptions into The Amateur Championship and Final Qualifying for The 150th Open at St Andrews.
England’s Josh Hill, the top-ranked player in the field at 202nd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, will have high hopes after reaching the last-32 of The Amateur at Nairn in June.
Two talented Scotsmen will also seek to challenge, namely Ruben Lindsay – who won stroke play qualifying at The Amateur at Royal Birkdale in 2020 – and Calum Scott, a quarter-finalist on home soil at Nairn in The Amateur.
Local interest will centre on Royal St George’s player Jack Shipton and Harley Smith, who won as an amateur on the Clutch Pro Tour at nearby Prince’s in April and reached the last-16 of The Amateur, before losing to Scott.
Scottish twins Oliver and Samuel Mukherjee, who are attached to Gullane in East Lothian, will also hope to shine, with Oliver enjoying the thrill of contesting The Amateur at Nairn in the company of Walker Cup players Jack Dyer and Mark Power.
At Fulford, Hannah Darling will seek to rekindle her love for the venue. The Scot, the best-ranked player in the field at 33rd in the WAGR®, won the inaugural Girls’ Under 16 Open Championship at the venue in 2018.
Darling’s closing 40-foot birdie putt sealed a dramatic victory over Ireland’s Beth Coulter that year, with Coulter also back at Fulford to now seek Girls’ Amateur success. The Scot, who reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Amateur Championship at Kilmarnock (Barassie) in June, is likely to be challenged by Welsh duo Ffion Tynan and Gracie Mayo.
English trio Lottie Woad, Patience Rhodes – victor in the English Girls’ Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship last month – and Maggie Whitehead, recently crowned English Girls’ Under-16 Open champion, will also hope to contend at the former European Tour venue.
A number of this week’s players competed in the Girls’ Under 16 Open Championship at Fulford in 2018 and 2019, with the event introduced as part of The R&A’s drive to boost the girls’ game in Great Britain and Ireland and beyond, as well as provide a pathway to the elite amateur level for leading young players.
Among the field of over 80 players, girls from across Great Britain and Ireland will tee up alongside competitors from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Anne-Sterre den Dunnen from the Netherlands, ranked 148th in the world, and Fulford member Alexandra Bonfield are also among those to watch.
The 2019 Girls’ Amateur was won by Slovenia’s Pia Babnik at Panmure – the teenager already a Ladies’ European Tour winner in 2021 – with past winners also including Major champions and Solheim Cup players, such as Suzann Pettersen (1999), Azahara Munoz (2004), Anna Nordqvist (2005) and Georgia Hall (2012).