Connie is girls’ runner-up at Duke of York

South Africa’s Connie Chen finished tied 10th and was the second best girl on 228 (76, 81, 71) at the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy played at Royal St Georges Golf Club last week. The other South African participant, Brandon Stone finished T19 on 232.
Leading girl, Ireland’s Leona McGuire finished in third place overall with her nine-over tally of 222(73, 75, 74), with Connie Chen the next placed girl six shots back on 228. Leona’s twin, Lisa, finished 13th overall, and one back from Connie on 229.

Connie was selected to play in the event when she won the Nomads SA Girls Championships at Orkney earlier thgis year.

In a nail-biter of a finish, Gudmundur Kristjansson of Iceland won the event by a shot from Ireland’s Dermot McElroy. Two behind McElroy after 13 holes, Kristjansson drew level at the long 14th and went ahead with a resounding birdie at the 16th.

In the end, he added a 72 to earlier rounds of 75 and 71 for a 218 tally which was no mean feat in the wind-tossed conditions.

“It’s far and away the best result I’ve ever had,” said the winner, who received his trophy from The Duke of York, who once played over Kristjansson’s home course in Reykjavic.

It is also a big deal for Iceland and one which mirrors the game’s explosion. As recently as 1990, the country had no more than 1,000 golfers. Today, there are as many as 17,000 “registered” players, while roughly 25% of the population say they play the game at least twice a year.

Kristjansson, who had been two ahead after eight holes, had a rough-strewn seven at the ninth to lose his lead. But he stayed patient until the 14th where McElroy was the one to amass a double bogey. Out of bounds off the tee, the Irish Boys’ champion dispatched what was his fourth shot into rough on the left and his fifth to the back of the green.

Everything happened at the short 16th. Leona Maguire, the third member of the leading group, was caught up in the bunker which arguably cost Thomas Bjorn the 2003 Open championship. She walked from the green with a five to drop out of contention at nine over par for the tournament, while Kristjansson holed from nine yards to take the lead at five over. As the putt dropped, so he gave the air a Tiger-like punch.

Nothing changed at the 17th but, when it came to the 18th, the Icelander opened the door for the Irishman when he pushed his drive into the right-hand rough which had claimed so many balls over the week. He chopped out well enough with his wedge and waited to see what McElroy would do with his second.

As it transpired, McElroy left his shot well short of the putting surface and gave the face of his club a recriminatory slap. Kristjansson then proceeded to hit a spanking third to ten feet and, when he holed for the par, the championship was his.

Though nervous on the first tee, Kristjansson had been ice-cool coming down the stretch. “I’ve been in contention in a lot of tournaments in Iceland,” he explained.

He has done a lot to sharpen his game through playing overseas but he will tell you that golf at its best is playing with his friends through those three magic Icelandic weeks in June when the sun barely goes down. “Sometimes we go out at midnight and sometimes afterwards,’ he explained.

The afternoon sun stayed in place for long enough for The Duke of York to present the prizes and remind competitors to get their games in shape for the 10th Anniversary at Royal Liverpool next September.
Posted in