Ben Schmidt’s stunning Brabazon Trophy win at Alwoodley is major accomplishment

Rotherham's Ben Schmidt beams as he holds the Brabazon Trophy after his win at Alwoodley (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).
Rotherham's Ben Schmidt beams as he holds the Brabazon Trophy after his win at Alwoodley (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).
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Yorkshire has its third holder of the Brabazon Trophy in four years – and 16-year-old Ben Schmidt has become the youngest winner of the event after finishing on 13 under par to triumph by five shots at Alwoodley.

The Rotherham lad has nudged two major winners into the shadows with his victory, former Open and Masters champion Sandy Lyle and Masters winner Charl Schwartzel respectively 17 and 18 when they won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play – one of the most sought-after titles in international men’s amateur golf.

“Being the youngest makes it even more special,” said Schmidt, who was under par in all four rounds of the championship, shooting 69 64 69 69.

“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 is the second successive Yorkshire player to win the Brabazon, following the success of Wath’s Nick Poppleton in 2018, and Meltham’s Jamie Bower claimed it in 2016.

Adding further White Rose sheen to Schmidt’s accomplishment was the fact that they had two other players in the top 10 in Wike Ridge’s Ben Firth, fourth on his own (73 66 72 69) and Fulford’s Charlie Thornton, who was tied seventh (71 67 70 74).

Schmidt, who was cheered by a 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.”

This was Schmidt’s first appearance in the Brabazon 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 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.

The two players were paired together for the final round with Schmidt setting out 11 under par and Hall (West Cornwall) 10 under.

Hall, 21, 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. “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 championship runner-up on eight under, while Scotland’s Euan Walker was third on seven under after a closing 66.

Firth was five under for the day through his first 10 holes, but gave two of those shots back at the 11th and another at 15.

Thornton was fourth heading into the last day, but could find only one birdie, which was overwhelmed by four bogeys.