GOLF: Wiltshire's Stow chases history at Saunton

Ben Stow recent won the Brabazon Trophy Picture: Leaderboard Photography

Ben Stow recent won the Brabazon Trophy Picture: Leaderboard Photography

First published in Sport

BEN Stow can join an exclusive club if he adds the Abacius-supported English Amateur Championship to his Brabazon Trophy (English Amateur Strokeplay title) he won earlier this summer when the former is played at Saunton Golf Club in Devon from July 28 - August 2.

Only three players have completed the double since the Brabazon was inaugurated in 1947. Michael Bonallack won the Brabazon at Ganton and the English Amateur at Walton Heath in 1968 and David Fisher did both at Stoneham and Saunton in 1993.

Two years later, Mark Foster shared the Brabazon with Colin Edwards at Hillside then became English Amateur champion at Hunstanton.

No one has won both since but Stow, from East Knoyle near Warminster, has the opportunity in North Devon when he begins his bid on the West Course at 2.30pm on the opening day.

The first two days are confined to 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying on the West and East Courses, the leading 64 players going forward to the matchplay knockout.

Stow (Rushmore), home from college in the United States, won the Brabazon Trophy, the English Men’s Strokeplay Championship with a closing round of 66 at Seaton Carew last month, edging out England teammates Ryan Evans (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire) and Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park, Shropshire & Herefordshire) by a shot.

The latter pair are also in action at Saunton. Evans, twice a winner in Australia earlier this year, starts his opening round on day one on the West at 9.20am while European Amateur champion Chesters tees off on the East at 10.40am.

Because so many English champions turn professional, the field of 288 contains only one previous winner, Harry Ellis (Meon Valley, Hampshire, IoW & CI), who became the youngest winner at 16 when he won the title at Silloth-on-Solway in 2012. 

All six internationals who played for England in the recent European Men’s Team Championships, are also competing, including Bowood's Jordan Smith who is off at 10am on the West.

There are several more internationals in the field including Michael Saunders (Dartford, Kent), Nick Marsh (Huddersfield, Yorkshire), Jimmy Mullen (Royal North Devon), Seb Crookall-Nixon (Workington, Cumbria) and Harry Casey (Enfield, Middlesex).

The illustrious list of previous champions  includes Bonallack, former Ryder Cup captain Mark James, six-time Major champion Nick Faldo and Ryder Cup star Paul Casey.

The Championship starts at 7am on Monday, July 28, culminating with the 36-hole final on Saturday, August 2.

MORE SPORTS NEWS & PICTURES IN THIS WEEK'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND WILTSHIRE TIMES

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