Svensson denies De Lange at Boys Amateur
Sweden’s Marcus Svensson defeated South Africa’s Keegan De Lange 4&3 in the 36-hole final at Royal Birkdale to win the 89th Boys Amateur Championship on Sunday.
The 17-year-old from Halmstad Golf Club became the second Swedish player in succession to win the title, following on from Oskar Bergqvist’s victory at Prestwick in 2014.
De Lange from Pretoria Country Club, the first South African to reach the final of this prestigious international championship, opened with a double-bogey six, but Svensson took full advantage of the benign conditions at the historic links.
The South African dropped a further shot on the third hole to give Svensson the early lead, which the Swede never relinquish through to the conclusion of the match.
After a slow start, the left-handed De Lange made birdies at six and eight, but Svensson responded with gains at eight and 10 to turn 4-up.
The Swede took a five hole lead as De Lange struggled down the back nine. But after Svensson bogeyed 14, De Lange holed a 30-foot eagle putt on 15 cut the deficit to three holes.
Svensson bounced back with a birdie 17, though, to take a four hole lead into the last 18 holes.
It was the Swede’s turn to struggle and he dropped four shots against a lone birdie on the front nine.
De Lange closed the gap to two holes by the turn, but bogeyed the 28th hole to trail by three holes. He matched Svensson’s birdie at the 29th hole, but a duffed approach shot into a pot bunker on the 31st hole for a double bogey six.
This left Svensson four up with six to play, but De Lange kept the match alive by getting up-and-down from the edge of a greenside bunker on the 32nd to halve the hole.
Svensson matched De Lange’s par five at the 33rd hole, though, to secure a 4&3 win.
A gentleman in defeat, the Gavan Levenson Academy player praised his opponent and paid tribute to the event and the six-time Open Championship venue.
“It was a bit of a struggle out there and I wasn’t playing my best golf, but I had an unbelievable week so I can’t be angry about that,” De Lange said.
“Marcus played really well and put the pressure on early in the game and kept it going. All in all, well played to Marcus, he deserved the win.
“It was unbelievable to play Royal Birkdale. In the practice round I was wondering how to break 80 and look where I finished. I’m very pleased with myself and I achieved what I thought was impossible, so I am very happy.
“I hope to be back here to play one day. To play The Open or The Amateur would be the dream.”
Svensson suffered with a stomach ailment at the start of the 36-hole stroke play qualifier and almost withdrew after the first round. He was thrilled with the biggest victory of his young golfing career.
“It’s almost unbelievable,” Svensson said.
“This means so much to me and I couldn’t be happier after lifting the trophy. You put so many hours and so much hard work into this game and finally, it pays off.
“After the first qualifying round, I was very ill in the night and the morning of the second day I almost couldn’t bring myself to the golf course as I was very weak.
“So to be standing here at the end and winning is not what I thought would happen.
“I am very good friends with Oskar, so it is great to defend the title that he won for Sweden. I guess the secret is to be Swedish and play good golf.”
With the victory, Svensson earns a place in the 2016 Amateur Championship, which will be held at Royal Porthcawl and Pyle & Kenfig.
With gratitude to the R&A for final round copy and quotations.
36-HOLE FINAL SCORING – Click HERE
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.