SIXTEEN-year-old Ben Schmidt became the youngest-ever winner of the Brabazon Trophy – winning by five shots at Leeds’ Alwoodley Golf Club, on Sunday – 70 years after it was first won by a 17-year-old.
Schmidt pips major winners Sandy Lyle and Charl Schwartzel, who were respectively 17 and 18 when they won the English Men’s Open Amateur Strokeplay – one of the most sought-after titles in international men’s amateur golf – and Hampshire’s Paddy Hine, who set the record in 1949 that was not broken until 1975 when Lyle won at Holinwell.
“Being the youngest makes it even more special,” said Schmidt, who was under par in all four rounds of the championship, shooting rounds of 69, 64, 69, and 69 to finish on 13-under.
Schmidt added: “I’m just so pleased I got over the line, it takes a very long time to play the back nine when you’re in the lead!”
The teenager, from Rotherham Golf Club, is the second successive Yorkshire player to win the Brabazon, following Nick Poppleton’s success in 2018 – and the third in the last four years.
Schmidt, who was cheered by the large crowd of spectators as he signed off with a par on the 18th, said: “This means so much. It’s nice to keep it in Yorkshire and it was awesome to see so many supporters, friends and family.
“I’m just so glad I managed to keep the lead from day two, that’s probably been the toughest part, but I got it done and it’s just amazing.”
It was Schmidt’s Brabazon debut and he took advantage of an exemption gained when he won the 2018 English Boys’ County Champion of Champions tournament.
His first goal was to make the cut and he did that in style, taking the lead after the second round when he shot a seven-under 64. He held on to the lead after round three, but it was cut to one shot when Cornwall’s Harry Hall set a new course record 63 on Saturday.
The two players were paired together for the final round with Schmidt leading on 11-under par just one ahead of Hall, form West Cornwall GC.
Twenty-one-year-old Hall made a blistering start, with two birdies in the first three holes to overtake Schmidt. But the teenager took the lead again when he holed a 25-footer for birdie on the fifth, while his rival bogeyed the hole.
The players were back on level terms after Schmidt bogeyed the short ninth with an uncharacteristic three-putt. But that was his last mistake. He played the difficult back nine in two-under par, while Hall dropped three shots over the closing holes.
The youngster had a four-shot cushion as he played the last and his winning margin was extended when Hall’s par putt horseshoed out of the hole.
“I played the back nine really well,” said Schmidt, who hails from the same club where Masters winners Danny Willett played as an amateur. “Those last five or six holes are really tough and I didn’t do any damage, I hit the centre of the greens and gave myself chances with the putts.”
Schmidt, a member of the England Boys’ squad, also won the George Henriques Salver awarded to the leading GB&I player aged under 20.
Hall was runner-up on eight-under par, while Scotland’s Euan Walker was third on seven-under after a closing 66.
The first ever 17-year-old to claim the Brabazon was Hampshire’s Paddy Hine, who won the Brabazon at Southampton’s Stoneham GC, when it was played in October 1949 .
Hine, who wento to become Air Chief Marshal in the RAF and was joint commander of all UK forces in the 1990 Gulf War, had already won the Carris Trophy that summer.
The Brokenhurst Manor GC member is still the only player ever to do that in the same season – only nine have completed the double in their amateur career.
Schmidt now has the chance to join that exclusive club when the Carris Trophy returns to its spiritual home at Moor Park, in Hertfordshire, in July.
For full Brabazon scores click here