By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 30/08/20 8:30pm
Joe Long produced an impressive all-round display to win The 125th Amateur Championship with victory over Joe Harvey in the final at Royal Birkdale.
Long was never behind in the all-English, 36-hole final and claimed a 4&3 win over his good friend and fellow Bristolian to earn a place in the field at both The Masters and The 149th Open next year.
A birdie at the fifth put Long in front before Harvey’s par at the seventh was enough to level, but Long then won three of the next four holes – two of them conceded – only for Harvey to fight back with wins at 15 and 16.
Long birdied 17 to take a two-hole lead into the afternoon session, in which both players struggled early and combined for five bogeys in five holes before Long birdied six and seven to restore his three-hole advantage.
Harvey pulled one back with a par at nine, but he dropped further shots at the 10th and 11th to slip four behind, and Long’s 15-foot birdie putt at the long 15th dropped to close out victory with three holes to spare.
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“That sounds amazing, 125th Amateur Champion has quite a nice ring to it,” said Long. “I was feeling nervous, we both were. My game plan was just to try and stick in the present as much as I could, forget about all the rewards and benefits that come with winning.
“I hit a few ropey shots in the first round, but I started to tee my driver down and get it back in play. I felt like I was pretty solid overall. This afternoon again I was hitting driver well and holed a few nice putts as well which was cool. I just had it in play all the time and felt in control.
“I was never behind and just stuck at it. I have been behind in a lot of matches before and still turned it around but it is always hard when you are up against it. So it was nice to be in control. I thought to myself not to do anything stupid.
“It’s really good and hard at the same time because he is a really good mate, and when I win it is hard to see him lose. But it is all part of the sport we play and the match was played in great spirit, we enjoyed it out there.”
Long will now have the chance to play at Augusta National in April next year before teeing up in The Open at Royal St George’s, and he added: “It still hasn’t hit me, it’s going to be incredible. This is what I have worked hard for since I started playing golf. I really stuck in there and battled, I am just so chuffed with it really.
“I played Royal St George’s maybe four years ago in the South East Links and I remember it being a tough track. So that is going to be a good battle, it’s just going to be awesome and I am going to enjoy the experience of playing in The Open. It’s just going to be huge.”
Harvey said: “If you had said at the beginning of the week that I would be in the final I don’t think I would have believed you. I am really chuffed with the way I have played all week. I would like to say congratulations to Joe Long. He played great today.
“It was quite relaxing having one of my good mates out there with me. But we were both out there to win so between shots we would have a little bit of a chat, but coming up to our shots we were in the zone.
“I was so happy for Joe when he holed that putt but as a golfer, I was gutted that my chance to win had come to an end. I am so tired after a long week, so my emotions are a bit all over the place.”
R&A Amateur Championship 2020
September 8, 2020, 9:00pm