Teenage golfer Matt Freeman, who lives in Edwinstowe, is celebrating the biggest success of his career so far after landing one of the country’s most prestigious junior competitions.
Fifteen-year-old Matt, a member at the Rufford Park club, won the English U16 Boys’ Spring Championship, which was held at the Hawkstone Park course in Shrewsbury.
He led from the off, thanks to a sub-par first round, and it was a particularly satisfying triumph after the disappointment of not being picked for an England Golf regional squad.
“This is a really big confidence-booster because now I know I can do it,” said a delighted Matt, son of proud parents Craig and Tracy Freeman.
“I’ve tried to get on a squad twice and both times I was disappointed. But in a way, it’s given me that drive to prove the selectors wrong.”
The Hawkstone Park tournament attracted promising players from all over the country. But Matt was the only player to beat par over the 54 holes, scoring two-under with rounds of 68, 72 and 74. He finished two shots clear of James Cooper, of Cumberwell Park, which is in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, and a further shot ahead of third-placed Aaron Edwards-Hill, an England U16 East regional squad player from Chelmsford in Essex.
Matt’s opening round of 68 was the best competitive score he has recorded and included five birdies and just one bogey.
“It was great to get off to such a good start,” he said. “From then on, I just felt settled in.
“I didn’t really feel under any pressure. I knew I was playing well and I had got my name up to where it needed to be on the leaderboard for the tournament.”
The event was organised by Alan Covey, an England Golf U16 regional manager, who presented the trophy to Matt.
A girls’ tournament ran alongside the boys’ championship, and was won by England Golf squad player Nicola Slater, from Hickleton in Yorkshire.
The 16-year-old also posted a wire-to-wire victory after getting off to a flier with a three-under-par 70 in her opening round, which featured an eagle, a birdie and 16 pars. Nicola followed up with rounds of 73 and 77 for a three-over final total.
She held a five-shot lead going into the last round, but her closest rival, Annabell Fuller, of Roehampton, was closing fast and when Nicola bogeyed the last hole, she thought she was heading for a play-off.
“But then Alan came and shook me by the hand, congratulated me and told me I had held on by one shot,” she said. “It was a shock!”