Mckenzie back and gunning for titles

Rowlands Castle's Billy Mckenzie
Rowlands Castle's Billy Mckenzie
Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin

Gregory misses out

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BILLY McKENZIE is ready to hit the heights after flying home to make an impact on the domestic amateur scene during his summer break.

The 20-year-old talent, from Rowlands Castle, is making great progress on a golf scholarship in the USA at William Woods University, Missouri.

I’m pretty tired but it’s a good tournament and I wanted to play

Billy Mckenzie

The left-hander is among five nominees for the coveted NAIA Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award for his efforts over a fine season.

He clocked up two wins and seven top-10 finishes, while also playing his part in helping his college team secure a runners-up place in the national championship.

But just hours after flying back into Gatwick, Mckenzie was playing a practice round ahead of today’s Lagonda Trophy at Gog Magog in Cambridge ,where Ben Wall, Darren Walkley (both Hayling) and Scott Gregory (Corhampton) are also in the field.

Mckenzie said: ‘I flew in and then drove straight to Cambridge so I haven’t been home yet.

‘I’m pretty tired but it’s a good tournament and I wanted to play.

‘I was playing at Daytona Beach, Florida, where it was too hot. But then I’ve had to wear a jumper and trousers in Cambridge – it’s a bit different!

‘It’s not quite as easy as I thought it would be to fly back and go straight to the course. I was pretty tired during the practice round.

‘Luckily, I am in one of the later groups so will get a bit of a lie-in.

‘And it was weird to adapt to the conditions again.

‘We were down in Florida for two weeks where you fly it into the greens and the ball goes miles.

‘But then you come back and it’s all about pitching it short.

‘I had to spend a good extra hour or so afterwards chipping on to the greens to get used to seeing the ball roll out again.

‘It’s nice to come back to English golf and I will just try to make the cut and get back into it.

‘I’m not really expecting anything but, hopefully, I can do well in a few tournaments while I’m back.’

Mckenzie has earned a place in the British Amateur Championship at Carnoustie next month and will also feature in county events during his summer break from studies.

And he admits he was surprised to be among the final five back in America who will get a chance to meet a legend of the game at the awards ceremony.

‘I obviously knew about the Nicklaus award but I didn’t know he presented it until I read the article online,’ said Mckenzie.

‘It’s not just done on scoring average but it takes a few things into consideration about how you are playing for your team and whether you are up there consistently.

‘The other four guys have had really good years but it’s a great achievement to just be nominated as one of the top five across the country.’