Thursday, November 24, 2011


Dubai-based Scottish teenager Daniel Hendry beat Jimmy Mullen in a four-hole play-off on a remarkable final day at the Abu Dhabi Junior Golf Championships, while Hayley Davis from Dorset successfully defended her girls' title after making the long trip from Waco, Texas where she is a freshman student at Baylor University.
Mullen had been the front runner from the outset of the 54-hole boys' tournament over the Abu Dhabi National course.
With the sun dropping and the pair having already played out an enduring mental test in the final round heat – they both finished at three under 213 - the pair went down the par five 18th four times before Hendry finally prevailed with a birdie to lift his second trophy inside a week. A member of the Emirates Club, Hendry's victory last week in the Rashid Trophy tournament earned him a place in this week's junior event.
“I kept going on the front nine but it was roller-coaster play,” said Hendry, who is likely to receive a few more offers to join American universities this week - he already has eight to choose from. Hendry originally came from Stirling but moved to the United Arab Emirates when his father's job took him to the Middle East.
Hendry, who has a +3 handicap, has played for Scotland in the boys home internationals of 2010 and 2011.
“We both played great and I think it deserved a play-off like that. It was great experience for the two of us and it felt like we had been out there all day.”
At halfway, Hendry, who started the day two shots behind, had halved the deficit before striking a superb pitch to the 10th. Mullen, meanwhile, kept himself alive with two notable bunker shots in a row from the 14th.
When Mullen three-putted the final two holes, enabling the chasing Hendry  to force the play-off, the balance in power shifted in the Scot's favour. Both still had chances to win after finally avoiding safety and going for the 18th in two. Both had their chances on the green, but Mullen ultimately left himself too much to do with the putter.
After such an enduring battle, the Royal North Devon junior looked utterly dejected. “I should have won,” he conceded. “I hit 15 greens but finished two over par. My bunker play was great but I had too many putts."
Despite his closing 74, Mullen showed enough talent, especially from the bunkers, to suggest he has a bright future in the game. The 18-year-old now flies to Australia in December where he starts work as a greenkeeper at Riversdale Golf Club in Melbourne. A European Tour card remains his aspiration.
As Scot Andrew Coltart, a former Ryder Cup player  - part-time on tour and out here engaging in coaching clinics - put it afterwards: “There’s so much pressure in a Championship finale. It’s what you learn from moments like this that define you as a golfer. The sooner Jimmy gets used to it the better it will be.”
If the relief was palpable for the composed Hendry spare a thought for his parents, who were visibly moved at the denouement. “We were nervous wrecks,” said Andy, his father. “But it shows just how mature he is to win against the cream of British golf.”
The girls’ event looked to be heading the same way at the turn. In another see-saw encounter, Lauren Taylor from Rugby, at 16 the youngest-ever British women's amateur champion this year, closed the deficit to one stroke before Hayley Davis crucially found her rhythm to retain her title by six shots.
The Woburn junior’s putting deserted her and she finished one over for the tournament. However it was Davis’s 64 in the second round which proved the difference.
“I didn’t play great and it was very up and down,” said Davis of her final round 73, who now ends her junior career with back-to-back titles. “I was trying to get a good rhythm and it felt good to come back at one under.”
After winning the English girls’ trophy this year, Davis, English women's champion the year before, received a congratulatory letter from Peter Allis, who is a member at Davis’s club at Ferndown in Dorset. Following the size of her win here, she can expect more of the same.
Davis, Taylor and Boulden are all expected to be named in the GB and I preliminary squad for next June's Curtis Cup match at Nairn against the United States.
Par 216 (3x72)
213 Daniel Hendry (Scotland/United Arab Emirates) 70 71 72, Jimmy Mullen (Royal North Devon) 69 70 74 (Hendry won at fourth hole of play-off).
217 Paul Kinnear (Sefton) 74 72 71.
218 Oliver Carr (Heswall) 71 72 75.
220 Harrison Greenberry (Exeter) 74 74 72.
225 James Newton (Cheshire) 77 72 76.
228 Ben Anderson (Belton Park) 78 75 75.
229 Alex Gleeson (Castle, Co Sligo) 76 76 77.
231 Jack Singh Brar (Bramshaw) 77 74 80.
241 Willim Pennington (Heswall) 80 77 84.
248 Oliver Walsh (Thurlestone) 85 82 81.
256 Luke Fitzpatrick (Mill Green) 77 89 90.

Par 216 (3x72)
211 Hayley Davis (Ferndown and Baylor University, Texas) 74 64 73.
217 Lauren Taylor (Woburn) 71 71 75.
221 Amy Boulden (Maesdu) 69 74 78.
222 Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough) 77 71 74.
223 Samantha Giles (St Mellion) 75 70 78.
225 Brogan Townend (Pleasington) 76 73 76.
232 Elizabeth Stebbings (Wilpshire) 75 70 81, Rachel Walker (Dumfries and County) 76 75 81.
249 Lesley Atkins (Gullane Ladies) 78 87 84.

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