Gregory faces Penge in Aussie amateur final

Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin
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Corhampton’s Scott Gregory is through to the final of the New South Wales Amateur Championship after demolishing the Australian’s in-form Josh Armstrong 6&5 in the semi-final, at Sydney’s Terrey Hills Golf & Country Club.

The 22-year-old British Amateur Champion, who will make his debut at The Masters, at Augusta, in April, will face a derby in Friday’s 36-hole final when he faces fellow England squad member Marco Penge, from Golf at Goodwood.

Scott made a 35-foot birdie putt on the last hole to seal victory in his quarter-final against South Korea’s Taeho Kim in Thursday morning’s quarter-final Down Under.

But having booked his place in the last four and after a quick stop to refuel for lunch, Gregory came out all-guns blazing in the afternoon against Armstrong.

Last week, the 17-year-old Aussie claimed a one-shot victory in the Avondale Amateur, finishing 10 shots ahead of Gregory, who had to settle for 21st place after finishing on one-under par after four rounds.

Having shaken off the winter rust in his first three events of 2017 in the Australian sunshine - he reached the last 16 in the Australian Amateur Championship at Melbourne’s Yarra Yarra Golf Club, two weeks ago – Gregory’s game kicked into overdrive in the semis.

He raced into a five-hole lead after just five holes, having been two up after three and from then it was just a question of how many more holes it would take before he sealed his place in the final.

Victory came at the 13th with Penge claiming his place in the all-England final with a 3&2 win over another South Korean in the shape of Donmin Kim.

The pair – part of a four-man team sent to represent England in Australia’s leading amateur events thoughout January – were in the England team that struggeld at the European Amateur Team Championship, in Hungary, in July.

Gregory has grown in confidence over the first four days of the tournament having finished tied third in the 36-hole qualifying on Monday and Tuesday.

A 2&1 win over New Zealand’s Luke Brown was folllowed by win over South Korea’s Chanmin Jung by the same margin to reach the last eight.

That day’s work left the Hampshire ace, who begain his rise up the amateur rankings as a junior at Waterlooviille GC, close to his family home, very pleased with his steady improvement each week, on his first visit to Australia.

‘I played good, solid all day, on Wedneasdy,’ said Scott. ‘Both matches were trading birdies, not bogies, so that’s the way you like to play.

‘The first week at the Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne, was a bit rusty. I hadn’t been on the golf course for over a month,’ he said.

‘At the Aussie Amateur, I qualified in sixth place and made the top 16 of the match play, then was just outside the top 20 at Avondale last week.

In 2014 he reached the final of the English Amateur Chamipionship at North Devon’s Saunton, which propelled him into the England A squad for 2015.

After a year of adjusting to his meteoric rise from county to country having barely established himself as a regular in the Hampshire team before losing the English final to Yorskhire’s Nick Marsh, Gregory then lost in the final of the 2016 Spanish Amateur Championship in Seville.

He lost to France’s reigning British Amateur champion Romain Langasque, but that defeat paved the way for his vicitory in last year’s British Amateur Championship at Royall Porthcawl.

That win over Scot Robert MacIntyre earned him entry into last year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon, and an invite to Augusta in just two months’ time.

He will also play in the US Open Erin Hills, in June, and last week was named in the provisional squad for September’s Walker Cup clash against America, in Los Angeles.

Gregory plans to turn pro after that with a probable trip to the European Tour Qualifying School, in the autumn.