Rotherham's Schmidt denied McGregor Trophy success by a late birdie blitz

Rotherham's Ben Schmidt (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).Rotherham's Ben Schmidt (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).
Rotherham's Ben Schmidt (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).
ROTHERHAM'S Ben Schmidt went agonisingly close to putting his name alongside that of Olympic champion Justin Rose in the English under-16 boys' open at Kedleston Park.

Schmidt carded rounds of 71 67 72 72 in Derbyshire and appeared to have the McGregor Trophy within his grasp.

He led by three shots with nine holes to play, but Stoke Park’s Conor Gough had four birdies in his last six holes to edge the Rotherham player by one.

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Leading by three going into the last of four rounds, the Yorkshire boys’ champion played the front loop in two-under 34 with the aid of four birdies, which took his tally on the front nine for the week to 13.

However, he dropped shots at 12, 14 and 15 and suddenly had company at the top in the shape of Gough.

And although the Yorkshire lad showed great spirit by birdieing both 16 and 17 his third bogey at 18 in four rounds proved damaging.

Schmidt had hit the ground running, lying in fourth place after round one after carding a one-under-par 71, which put him two off the lead.

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He was out in two under with the aid of three birdies and had two more coming home, but they were outnumbered by four bogeys.

The Rotherham player had climbed to the top of the leaderboard by the end of day two, ahead by one shot after a 67.

It could have been even better, his only bogey of the day coming with a stumble at the last.

But up to that point his card was immaculate. Having started with successive birdies at one and two, Schmidt also birdied 13 and 15.

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Faced with two rounds on the final day, he went to the turn in level par in round three, with two birdies and two bogeys, and was tied for the lead.

The 10th threatened to derail him when he took a triple bogey seven, but Schmidt showed tremendous composure to play the last eight holes in three under to hold a three-shot lead going into the final round.

Cookridge Hall’s Nathan Ali made the cut with a 149- total (75 74) and added further scores of 76 75.