Scott Gregory toasted the biggest win of his golfing career after clinching Amateur Championship glory and admitted: It’s a dream come true.
The 21-year-old Corhampton player held off a strong challenge from Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre to seal a memorable 2&1 victory in the prestigious 36-hole match at Royal Porthcawl on Saturday.
In doing so, the England A international secured a place in The 145th Open at Royal Troon, next year’s US Open at Erin Hills and, by tradition, an invitation to the Masters Tournament in 2017.
Gregory said: ‘Obviously it’s a dream come true.
‘You dream about moments like this when you are practising all those hours and when you’re not playing as well as you’d like to.
‘I think luck went my way a little bit, that definitely helped.
‘I got a couple of lies where I shouldn’t have had lies but I made the most out of the opportunities that I had.
‘I kept telling myself if I got chances, I’ve got to take them because that’s what people who win these championships do.
‘They give themselves chances and when they get them, they take them.
‘I knew my putt on 17 was the moment I needed to make it so it was nice to do it.’
Gregory got off to a strong start and led for most of the morning round, retaining a one-hole lead going into the afternoon.
The momentum shifted to MacIntyre in the early stages of the afternoon round, though, with the Scot moving ahead for the first time in the match when he won the 20th and 21st holes with pars after Gregory found the rough with approaches to both holes.
The evenly-matched pair traded holes over the next six holes with the left-handed MacIntyre losing the 22nd after finding a bunker.
Gregory showed his mastery of bunker play with a fine escape from 60 yards short of the green at the next and holed from eight feet to move back in front.
MacIntyre birdied the 24th to move back to all square and Gregory replied with a birdie at the 118-yard par three 25th when his tee shot finished a foot from the hole to edge in front.
The Scot fought back once again, holing a six-foot par putt to win the 27th, but Gregory enjoyed good fortune on the 28th when he overhit his chip from the side of the green and it struck the flag and dropped to a foot from the hole to earn him a half.
Gregory holed an eight-foot putt from the back of the 30th to claim the hole and when MacIntyre found a greenside bunker at the 31st the Englishman was two up with five to play.
When the 35th was halved in four, Gregory completed the most important victory of his young career.
He added: ‘It’s (playing in The Open) going to be completely new to me so hopefully I can get some decent practice rounds in with some people and see where I go from there.’