Harry Casey won the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy when he defeated Harang Lee, the European Young Masters Girls’ champion, at a first extra hole where he was a whisker away from making a birdie. His friends had not envied him such a play-off situation and the player himself admitted that it had not been the easiest.
“It was strange,” he chuckled afterwards. “It was harder to have to beat a girl than a boy.”
Casey had been well-placed to win at the 72nd when he arrived on that hole with a three-shot lead. As it was, his tee-shot landed in the kind of trap from which one competitor had taken as many as eight to emerge. He managed to escape at his first attempt, only to miss the two-footer he needed for what would have been a winning five.
The elegant Lee, meantime, made a birdie to catch him.
After the cards were handed in, the Duke of York himself sent Casey and Lee out to the 433 yards 17th. “Back you go,” he said, before advising them that this was almost certainly the first time that there had been a boy-girl play-off in a national event.
Haydn Porteous of South Africa finished in third place, while Kenta Konishi of Japan won the boys’ low score of the week award for his four-under-par last-round 68 and Ariya Jutanugarn the equivalent girls’ award for a 70.
The wind, which was so much of a factor on the first two days, left players to their own devices today. Most played better because of it but, for Lisa Maguire, the wind had become as an old friend and she seemed lost without it.
Though eight over par and leading the tournament after rounds of 80 and 72, she had the kind of high-scoring final day which no-one would have believed possible. To start with, people were pointing an accusing finger at the scoreboard bearer. Then they blamed the computer scoring system. Surely, a golfer of Lisa’s calibre – apart from having won everything in sight she plays to a handicap of + 5 – could not be as many as ten over par after nine holes.
As it turned out, the player was the guilty party. “It was when I hit my second shot to the second well wide of the green that everything started to go wrong,” she said ruefully. She knocked her next shot into a greenside bunker and then took two to escape en route to an eight.
It was a performance to put people in mind of what happened to Rory McIlroy on the last day of this year’s Masters. However, just as McIlroy did not take too long to bounce back, you would have to expect that Lisa will be back to her best as she and Leona represent Europe in next week’s Junior Solheim Cup.
The Duke of York was understandably thrilled with the success of his 10th Anniversary event. “The players have been incredible,” he said. “Considering what they had been through with the wind, they mostly all kept their lovely tempos.”
His Royal Highness had come to an interesting conclusion after assessing the competitors’ performances through a first day of 35 mph gusts and a second day when the wind was still blasting away if a little less alarmingly. On the first day, five girls had led the way; on the second, the boys started to make their presence felt.
“Boys,” he noted, “can’t play in a gale and girls can’t play in a wind.”
Yet, as he would add, both sexes came up trumps for the final round as playing conditions switched from the ridiculous to the sublime.