BEN Schmidt made it an Aussie double for England when he won the New South Wales Amateur Championship after Charlotte Heath’s brilliant weekend victory in the Australian Women’s Amateur.
The 17-year-old Rotherham GC member turned in a dominant performance against Northamptonshire’s Callum Farr in the all-England final, at St Michael’s Golf Club, near Sydney.
The 7&5 victory was highly impressive and another landmark moment in the career of one of world golf’s most promising amateur talents.
Last year, Schmidt completed the Brabazon and Carris double – breaking Sandy Lyle’s 42-year-old record in the process, the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters, and the Justin Rose Daily Telegraph Junior Championship at Quinta do Lago, in November.
The Yorkshire teenager, who became the youngest-ever winner of the Brabazon Trophy at the 2019 English Men’s Amateur Strokeplay at just 16, helped England’s men to Home International success.
Heath – who also hails from Yorkshire – claimed the biggest win of her career with a 7&6 triumph over Indonesia’s Mela Putri, at Royal Queensland.
Heath’s victory helped create the feelgood factor among the seven England internationals who travelled to Australia for four top amateur events, as she became just the fifth Brit since 1894 to win the ladies crown, in what is the 10th oldest championship in world golf.
And Schmidt was happy to ride the crest of the wave just five days later.
“It’s great to get a win and the first trophy for the season,” said the player who is a member at the same Yorkshire club as Masters winner Danny Willett.
Schmidt said: “I have played really well all week and felt comfortable out on the course, and was able to continue that feeling into the final.
“To be honest, I played pretty flawlessly and against a player of Callum’s standard that had to be the case.
“My main goal before I started was to treat the 36-hole final as two separate matches. It helped to narrow it down and focus on a shorter target.
“I was able to win the first hole of the day hitting two good shots into the green and from there I just grew in confidence.
“Over the last few weeks everyone in the England team has been able to find a bit of form, and it’s great that I could follow up Charlotte’s win with this success.”
Schmidt was two-up after four holes of the morning round, but was pegged back when Farr managed a brilliant birdie two at the fifth.
But a strong back nine saw him take a five-hole cushion into the afternoon round.
When Schmidt won the fifth hole of the afternoon round with a par to move six clear, it was clear he had one hand on the trophy.
“Me and my caddie Sean had a great game plan and we stuck to it all week.
“I hit some great golf shots and didn’t make many mistakes, and the result shows what happened out there.
“You’ve got to hit it in the right places out here,” Ben added.
“I did all right last year. It’s good to get my first win for this season under my belt. It’s a massive confidence boost.”
And Schmidt was full of praise for Farr, and admitted it was tricky taking on a team-mate and friend in such an important final.
“Callum’s a great mate and we get on really well,” said Schmidt.
“There were no hard feelings – we both knew we had to compete and someone had to win. Callum’s had a great week too and it’s great for English golf.”
It also meant an Englishman had won the New South Wales Amateur for the third time in four years.
Hampshire’s 2016 Amateur Champion Scott Gregroy beat Marco Penge, from Goodwood, in another all-English final, in 2017, while Staffordshire’s Gian Marco-Petrozzi won 12 months later.
Schmidt and the other six players representing England on the trip to Australia now have a day off, before a practice round on Sunday ahead of the Avondale Amateur, which starts on Tuesday.
Ben added: “The whole experience of being in Australia and coping with travel, time differences and style of golf courses has been amazing.
“I’ve played four courses now and they all have different features, different types of grass and that’s all part of learning the game.
“Hopefully, all the England players can show up well again in the Avondale.”
Heath returns to fray at Avondale
HUDDERSFIELD’S Heath missed the NSW Amateur Championship as the final of the Australian Women’s Amateur finished some 12 hours before play began at St Michael’s.
But the 18-year-old will be back for the Avondale and does so with a spring in her step.
After winning on Sunday, she said: “It was a bit stressful and I was super nervous to start.
“I got off to a quick start and then in the second 18 she started playing really good and it was tense.
“I made two bogeys and she made two birdies and I dropped a few. But I kept my head and kept going.”
Heath’s win has earned her spots in two professional events next month – the Vic Open on the Bellarine Peninsula, and the Women’s Australian Open, at Royal Adelaide.
The England international is hoping her school teachers will be wiling to let her take up what should be the opportunity of a lifetime.